WENZHOU, Zhejiang (China Aid) — In the midst of negotiations to relocate a government-sanctioned church in China’s coastal Zhejiang, a team of officials destroyed the structure without warning on the evening of May 20 under the excuse of improving that area of the city.
Zhuyang Church, an official Three-Self church in Wenzhou, was in talks with local authorities about a relocation when nearly 100 officers razed the building, leaving the church in ruins. Church members reported that the head of the church had been negotiating with officials from a sub-district government office regarding a new location and the fee needed for the move in the days before the surprise attack. No consensus regarding the relocation had been made at the time of the demolition.
Unlike previous church demolitions, authorities did not claim that there was anything illegal regarding the church’s documents or construction. Rather, the reasoning given was that of “transforming the villages in the city,” including the village in which Zhuyang Church is located. This kind of building destruction is in line with the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” initiative, a “beautification” campaign ongoing in Zhejiang since April 2014.