CHINA – Rev Gu released ahead of Chinese president’s meeting with Obama
The Chinese government has released Rev. Gu Yuese from prison ahead of President Xi Jinping’s scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama. Rev Gu is the former leader of Hangzhou’s Chongyi Church, the the largest government sanctioned church in the country,
The megachurch leader has been placed under “residential surveillance” following his release, so he is not entirely safe yet. Restrictive rules mean that he will not be allowed to leave his home or speak to anyone. He could even end up in a notorious “black jail”.
Rev Gu has been held in detention for almost three months for speaking out against the government’s church crosses demolition campaign, which has been going since autumn 2014. Human Rights and Religious Freedom groups believe that the Chinese government has been forcefully taking down church crosses as part of a larger campaign to suppress the rising tide of Christianity in China.
“The top leadership is increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence,” Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, said.”It is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of Christians in the country far outnumber the members of the Party,” he added.
The Chinese and US presidents will be holding high-profile meetings later in April, to discuss climate change, nuclear security, world economy and other topics. The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China urged President Obama to press China’s President Xi Jinping on his country’s deteriorating human rights record, claiming that the Chinese president is overseeing an “extraordinary assault on civil society, the rule of law, and the freedoms of religion, association, and assembly.”
In a letter to Obama, the Commission stated that “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.”