All photos published on Weibo.
Photos have emerged on Chinese social networks showing the controversial demolition of a large church in eastern China. This followed weeks of protests by parishioners, who saw the move as indicative of a larger crackdown on churches.
Sanjiang church was located in Wenzhou, a coastal city in Zhejiang province that is often referred to as the “Jerusalem of the East” due to its large Christian population, which is for the most part Protestant. Unlike many underground churches in China, Sanjiang was one of those sanctioned and controlled by the government.
However, in early April, local authorities announced plans to destroy it, alleging that its structure violated building codes. Churchgoers viewed the decision as discrimination, in light of recent comments by the head of the province’s ethnic and religious affairs committee who had complained that the spread of Christianity in the region was “too excessive and haphazard
”. The local authorities have denied they are targeting Christians. State media reported
that the church was built four times larger than the size that had been originally approved by the city.
In April, thousands of worshippers spent weeks guarding the church day and night. However, the protesters ended the occupation after reportedly reaching a compromise
with the authorities that would have seen an accessory building reduced in size. However, activists say that the deal broke down
in recent days after church leaders were harassed by security agents. And on Monday, the bulldozers moved in.