Under pressure from the central government, local Chinese officials from Fushan city secretly offered to pay $219,000 (1.5 million yen) in damages to the megachurch it leveled last week.
On Saturday night, security officials cornered six Fushan church leaders and brought them to a secret meeting place to negotiate with 20 government officials, according to ChinaAid Association.
The security officials expressed a desire to make amends with the church leaders after the central government placed pressure on them. The central government reportedly fears that if the incident is made widely known then it will mar the 60th anniversary celebrations of National Day on Oct. 1.
Fushan church leaders, though still angered by the destruction of 17 buildings on the compound, was reportedly willing to cooperate. They conveyed concern about fellow church members who were still hospitalized from the attack, and requested 1.5 million yen to cover damages.
Negotiations continued into the nigh, and at one point an officer reportedly shouted, “But the church building itself was illegal!” The pastor’s wife responded, “Even if it was an illegal church, did it have to be violent?” The officer reportedly had no response.
In China, all churches are mandated to register with a government-run Protestant or Catholic church body that oversees their operation. However, tens of thousands of Christians in China worship in unregistered churches because they oppose the idea of the government monitoring church activities.
After a long night of discussion, the Fushan officials verbally agreed early Sunday morning to pay 1.4 million yen (about $205,000) if the church members promise not to construct a religious building in the future. Authorities instructed them to call the building anything but a church.
ChinaAid president Bob Fu, who received the news, commented that the Chinese church members cannot be sure if the promise was sincere. As of Tuesday, he said, the church still has not heard anything from the officials.
“This may be a tactic to delay any actions against the government before the National Day on October 1st,” Fu noted.
The incident occurred a week ago on Sept. 13 when some 400 people in police suits raided the “Good News Cloth Shoes Factory,” which served as the site for the Fushan Church. The mob used bulldozers to destroy the brick buildings and physically attacked church members sleeping at the construction site of a new church building using bricks and other objects. Over 100 people were injured in various degrees. Some members were unconscious, while others needed blood transfusions or oxygen masks.
Members of Fushan Church, reportedly numbering 80,000, arrived hours later for church service and were shocked to find the buildings completely destroyed.
The attack on the house church has been described as unprecedented in nature because of the scale of destruction and the brutality of the attack against church members.
On Monday, the Chinese House Church Alliance, a network of house church pastors and congregations based in Beijing, issued a formal statement regarding the Fushan attack. The statement denounced the government’s action and pointed to the rights of religious freedom as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The government has committed a crime against civil property, civil rights and religious freedom; it is ironic propaganda that the local government [claims to be] 'for the people,’” the CHCA statement read.
“We hope the local government will not humiliate the Chinese people by their wicked behaviors,” it added.
ChinaAid calls on the international community to protest the brutal treatment of Chritians in China by praying and contacting offices in Fushan, which is supervised by Linfin city.
On the Web: http://www.chinaaid.org/