A prominent megachurch pastor has been released from prison preceding Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States.
The Christian Post reports that Gu Yuese, the former pastor of Hangzhou’s Chongyi Church, the largest government-sanctioned church in the country, was arrested on embezzlement charges, and held in prison for nearly three months. Gu was also prosecuted for speaking out against the government’s campaign to take down crosses from churches.
The Chinese government and communist party has been engaged in a campaign to regulate and control the spread of Christianity for two years. Part of that campaign involves taking down crosses from Christian churches.
Although Pastor Gu has been released from prison, he is still being held under “residential surveillance,” something which persecution watchdog groups say is still reason for concern.
"Pastor Yuese is not completely out of the woods because residential surveillance could likely be or become the notorious black jail. If he is placed under its restrictive rules, he will not be allowed to leave his home or speak with anyone,” stated International Christian Concern.
"The top leadership is increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence," added Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid.
President Obama has been under pressure to discuss China’s human rights abuses when President Xi meets with him on Xi’s visit to the U.S.
"President Xi must not be permitted to again visit Washington without any accounting for the severe erosion of human rights and rule of law which has taken place on his watch and with his authorization," said a letter to Obama from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, led by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey.
Publication date: April 6, 2016