Communist authorities in China’s Heilongjiang province raided a Christian music school, took away dozens of students and teachers for investigation and arrested the principal, according to a report.
More than 30 officials from the Chinese Communist Party, including SWAT officers, police officers, religious affairs bureau officials and local school district administrators raided Maizi Christian Music High School in Harbin city last Saturday, the U.S.-based rights group China Aid reported.
The officials arrested more than 100 students and most of the staff and released them after an interrogation that lasted for 24 hours. They also confiscated pianos, computers and documents belonging to the school, which caters to students who are younger than 18 and is dedicated to cultivating Christian musicians.
About one-and-a-half hours earlier, police officers stopped the school principal, identified only as Xu, while he took his child to school. Officers transported Xu to their police station and drove his child home to his mother.
Xu’s whereabouts was not known as of Saturday, and some teachers were still subject to follow-up interrogations.
As the school charges $2,631 (17,000 RMB) for tuition from each student, the authorities might charge Xu for providing “illegal” education.
“Principal Xu has had his home raided twice six months ago,” a friend of Xu told The Epoch Times, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern. “His phone has always been tapped. Despite our best efforts to learn about his whereabouts, we have received no news.”
“If a school is not authorized, then the government will arrest the responsible with all its energy,” ICC added.
Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, estimates that there are about 97 million Christians in China, a large percentage of whom worship in what China considers to be “illegal” and unregistered underground house churches.
Gina Goh, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, previously said: “Beijing seeks to intimidate the leaders in hopes that the churches will dissolve due to fear. Their plot will not succeed, thanks to the resiliency of the Chinese house church. They survived the Cultural Revolution, and they will survive Xi’s era as well.”
Under the direction of President Xi, officials from the CCP have been enforcing strict controls on religion, according to a report released in March by China Aid.
Authorities in China are also cracking down on Christianity by removing Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect this year.
China is ranked on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians.
The U.S. State Department has also labeled China as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”