Authorities in northeast China detained a Christian woman for her repeated attempt to share the Gospel with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan. The woman, who is from Liaoning province, has been arrested more than 50 times for her earlier attempts.
Police ordered Zhou Jinxia to return home to the port city of Dalian after she was caught holding up a sign asking Xi Jinping to believe in Jesus in the Zhongnanhai area in Beijing, the central headquarters for the Communist Party of China and the State Council of China, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported about her latest arrest last month.
The woman, who is an activist, was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on Feb. 21, according to ICC.
Her arrest came weeks before an annual political event in Beijing, called lianghui or “Two Sessions,” by the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which share upcoming policy direction, ICC said, explaining that the Chinese government usually intensifies its crackdown against civil society to ensure everything goes on smoothly.
Zhou has made more than 50 attempts to preach the Gospel to Xi and Peng in front of Zhongnanhai Xinhua Gate in Beijing and has been detained many times, the U.S.-based group China Aid, which monitors human rights in China, said.
In 2018, Zhou was arrested after she held a sign at the same political event that read: “God loves the people of the world and is calling out to Xi Jinping.”
In March 2016, she held out a longer sign that read: “God loves the people of the world and is calling out to Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan. Atheism nurtures sin and brings down the people. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; you should repent.”
Zhou’s efforts back then landed her in administrative detention for 10 days and charged with “disturbing social order.”
As Beijing hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics, many expressed outrage about China’s treatment of religious minority communities. While China was accused of genocide for its detainment of Uyghur and other ethnic Muslims in western China, human rights activists had voiced concern for years about the Chinese government’s longtime crackdown on unregistered churches and house church movements.
Open Doors USA, which covers persecution in over 60 countries, estimates that China has more than 97 million Christians, many of whom worship in unregistered or so-called “illegal” underground churches.
The five state-sanctioned religious groups in China are the Buddhist Association of China, the Chinese Taoist Association, the Islamic Association of China, the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Open Doors USA, has warned that the monitoring of unregistered house churches in China increased over the last year as more house churches have experienced “harassment and obstruction once their activities have been discovered.”
The group has also warned that many unregistered churches have been “forced to split up into small groups and gather in different locations, keeping a low-profile so as not to be detected by the sub-district officer or neighborhood committee.”