China escalates Bible crackdown
Bookstore owner re-arrested after being cleared of original counts
Posted: April 19, 2008 12:10 am Eastern

The Chinese owner of a bookstore near the 2008 Olympics complex in Beijing has been re-arrested and detained, only about a dozen weeks after he was cleared of allegations of illegally publishing Bibles and Christian literature due to "insufficient evidence," according to a new report from Compass Direct.

As WND reported earlier, Shi Weihan was released in January after being taken into custody shortly after Thanksgiving 2007 during police raids on his home and office.

China Aid Association then reported the fact he was released, along with several others, although the government offered no explanation for his case.

An American friend, businessman Ray Sharpe, had told WND at the time of the earlier arrest that Shi is a businessman who also works as a travel agent, and had gotten governmental permission to publish some Christian book titles.

Compass Direct now is reporting that the 37-year-old father of two was re-arrested on March 19 and is being held without any communication with his family, according to reports from his wife, Zhang Jing.

Compass said she had gotten no word on her husband's condition and is prohibited from bringing him food or clothing. Since he has diabetes, she is "very concerned" about his health, Compass reported.

Compass cited an Asia Times Online report that said Shi and his Holy Spirit Trading Co. were accused, again, of printing Bibles and Christian literature without government permission.

"Believers across China report a shortage of Bibles and other Christian resources. The China Christian Council (CCC) claims that Amity Press, the only legal publisher of Bibles in China, is producing enough Bibles to meet the demand. The Council, however, puts the total number of Protestant believers in China at only 16 million – including only the members of government-approved churches – whereas a survey carried out by the East China Normal University in 2005 and 2006, published in February 2007, stated that China had 40 million Protestants," the Compass report said.

Some estimates on the total number of Christians in China rise as high as 130 million. The fact is, Compass said, "In some areas, house church members still take turns reading the only available copy of Scripture."

The report said Shi's arrest "appears to be part of a crackdown on religious groups that the government fears could raise dissident voices during" the coming Olympics.

WND reported earlier on a "blacklist" of people and groups of people China has been targeting specifically because of the coming publicity that will accompany the Olympic Games in August. Those targeted include religious leaders.

WND also documented a report that China would ban Bibles from its Olympic village for athletes. Chinese officials denounced that report, but have maintained on the Olympics website a demand that visitors to the Games bring no more than a single Bible with them.

The case involving Shi has gotten considerable attention at least partly because he is the father of a U.S. citizen.

Sharpe told WND questions were directed to both the Chinese government and the U.S. embassy because the man's daughter, Grace Shi, 7, is a U.S. citizen, and was forced last fall into hiding with her Chinese mother and 11-year-old sister.

Sharpe, who said he was able to confirm information about the family because he lived for a number of years in China, told WND Shi is a life-long resident of Beijing, but was arrested then "in his Christian literature bookstore in a high-class business tower near the Olympics Village."

He said Shi's younger brother and Shi's wife, Jing Zhang, also were taken into custody but were released after questioning.

The daughter, Grace, is an American citizen because she was born during the family's visit to the U.S. in 2000. She and her older sister, "Lily," were distraught because they witnessed the raid on their home, Sharpe said.

WND previously has reported on China's apparent crackdown on Christians and Christianity in advance of the 2008 Games, including the expulsion of more than 100 foreign Christians in China in just a 90-day period, the biggest assault on the presence of Christianity in China since 1954.


Original article: World Net Daily
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