Chinese authorities are banning “illegal” and “unofficial” churches in preparation for the G20 summit, which will be held in Hangzhou.
Many heads of state will arrive in the city for a two-day meeting in September. Authorities say closing the churches in Hangzhou was meant for safety purposes.
One unofficial Protestant church that has existed for 40 years in the city’s Jianghan district and has around 2,000 members received a warning about the “illegal gatherings” they were apparently holding. The religious affairs bureau instructed it to “reform its illegal gathering activities,” according to Radio Free Asia.
Along with the notice came officials who took down a large cross on a church wall.
The church, which has since then been prohibited from meeting together, sought counsel from lawyer Li Guisheng.
Li said authorities have attempted to convince the church to become part of the Three-Self church, but they continually refused. Their refusal could be the reason behind the ban on church meetings, Li said.