MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Several dozen Christians clashed with police in the city of Wenzhow in southeastern Zhejiang province in China, protesting the authorities determined to take down the Salvation Church cross, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
“My heart is broken. It’s so disappointing. We’ve defended the church and we shed blood, but he compromised to agree that the cross will be removed. May God have mercy on him,” The New York Times cited one of the protesters as saying.
Over the last days, more than 50 people were seriously injured during confrontations with police in Zhejiang province, The New York Times reported.
On June 21, over 500 policemen suddenly attacked Kau Yan church in Zhejiang province. According to Radio Free Asia, the police mobilized large cranes, fire engines and ambulances to break down church’s cross.
"We are Christians and are not looking for trouble, and if the government comes to us with reasonable requests, we will not oppose it. But using force on us at 2:00 a.m. is unacceptable and we cannot understand why they are doing it," Reuters cited another witness of clashes as saying.
In June, Salvation and about two dozen other Protestant churches received requests from the county government to remove their crosses. Local authorities argue that church buildings and crosses are “illegal constructions.”
According to official statistics, there are over 30 million Christians in China. Other surveys suggest that the numbers are at least two times higher.
International human rights groups frequently accuse China of disliking individuals’ adherence to alternative beliefs and not respecting freedom of religion.