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China: Lawyer who defended Christians faces disbarment

Persecution of Christians in China: The proposed disbarment of Ren Quanniu, who represented Chinese Christian activist Zhang Zhan, is part of the Chinese government’s larger ongoing attempt to replace the Christian faith with faith in the Chinese Communist Party. Faith in Jesus Christ might interfere with one’s devotion to socialism with Chinese characteristics, and so Chinese officials are bent on eradicating that faith.

The tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China is vulnerable to this initiative. The Chinese government has not granted Orthodox Christianity any official status; Orthodox churches in China could be closed at any time at the whim of local officials, and Orthodox Christians taken into custody.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“China: Lawyer who defended Christians faces disbarment,” ICN, January 27, 2021:

A hearing has been scheduled for 29 January 2021 in Zhengzhou, Henan, concerning the proposed disbarment of Ren Quanniu, a human rights lawyer who represented Chinese Christian activist Zhang Zhan and offered legal advice to the family of one of 12 Hong Kong youths arrested at sea as they tried to flee to Taiwan.

The Henan Provincial Judicial Department has accused Mr Ren of “violating rules” during a trial in November 2018, in which he defended a member of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China. In a statement posted on social media, Mr Ren points out that “no law passed by the National People’s Congress or regulations by the State Council contains any clause designating Falun Gong as xie jiao.” Groups labelled ‘xie jiao,’ usually translated into English as ‘heterodox teachings’ or ‘evil cults,’ are banned in China.

Zhang Zhan is a Christian human rights defender and citizen journalist who was sentenced to four years in prison after posting videos and articles on social media about the COVID-19 outbreak. On 13 January 2021, her other lawyer, Zhang Keke, was able to visit her for the final time. Mr Zhang reported that she had decided not to appeal against the verdict, but indicated that she would continue to protest her innocence by refusing to eat normally throughout her jail term. Staff at the detention centre where she is being held have threatened to resume force-feeding her.

Zhang’s imprisonment has drawn widespread international concern and condemnation. On 8 January, human rights NGO Amnesty International said that “there remains grave fear that she might face further torture and other ill-treatment.” On 20 January, members of the Media Freedom Coalition raised concerns about her imprisonment and “the ongoing efforts by Chinese authorities to curtail media freedom.” The Coalition urged the Chinese authorities to immediately release Ms Zhang and “all those detained in connection with their reporting”….

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