China has arrested the leader of “Lawyers for Protection of the Cross,” among more than 250 attorneys, pastors, and human rights activists detained or arrested since July in the latest state-sponsored suppression of religious freedom.
On August 25, police in Wenzhou —a coastal city known as “China’s Jerusalem” where the government has been stripping the skyline of church crosses—jumped a wall at Xialing Church and arrested Zhang Kai and his intern, Liu Peng. The arrests occurred on the eve of a scheduled meeting with David Saperstein, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom who took office in January.
“These detentions fit into the disturbing pattern of state intimidation of public interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, [and] religious leaders,” Saperstein said to news media. “Also other people that I have met, or tried to, have suffered harassment of some kind. [The US government] demands the immediate release of these activists, who boldly underline the precariousness of religious life in China.”