back to top

The Chinese Government Is Cracking Down On Churches In The "Jerusalem Of The East"

A provincial government's campaign has torn down more than 1,200 crosses from churches in China since late 2013.

Posted on

Christians from eastern China's Zhejiang Province are making thousands of small crosses and painting them red, as a way to protest against the local government's sometimes violent campaign to tear down crosses from a growing number of Christian churches.


An anonymous follower told Radio Free Asia that the small crosses will be used "to hang at home, to carry around, or [to hang] in cars." He added they hope to "'let the crosses be everywhere," and to "express their simple belief as Christians."



According to the Financial Times, there are about 100 million Christians in China.

That makes them over 7% of the total population of the world's most populous nation. Meanwhile the ruling Communist Party only has 86.6 million official members in comparison — meaning Christianity has already a bigger membership pool than Communism in China.

"The cross" should be made according to the religions' traditions. Usually it should be attached to the front façade of the religious building."The cross" should be shorter than 10% of the height of the front façade of the building.Its color should match the façades of the church as well as the surrounding environment.

Guo Baosheng — a religion analyst with China Aid Association, a Christian non-profit group that promotes religious freedom in China — has taken to calling the campaign the "Cross Movement."

向死磕派致敬。RT @milpitas95035: 浙江基督教会在行动,让十字架走入每个信徒家。GCD发起拆教堂十字架运动,教会就发起家家挂十字架,人人穿戴十字架运动,发动全国基督徒在家里和衣服上佩戴十字架,并把十字架挂在屋顶发光发亮,


The movement isn't isolated to Wenzhou. Red crosses are also being displayed in Taizhou, another city in Zhejiang Province where Christianity is booming. Authorities removed the cross at the top of Puqingtang Church on Monday.


According to Radio Free China, a cross was set on fire while being torn down on July 21 in Taizhou. Activists say that all the crosses on 54 churches in the Yuhuan area of the city will be torn down by the end of July.

浙江省基督教协会7月10日就政府強制拆除十字架事件的公开信 協會應該是得到中共官方認可、接受了統戰的組織。信中說,浙江有兩百多萬基督徒, 拆除十字架“使得黨群關係變得極為被動和對立。”

In one government document, the Zhejiang campaign uses tactful language to refer to the campaign against churches it has carried out since 2013.

China Stringer Network / Reuters

A sculpture and a painting are seen above debris after a fire at the Jiangbei Cathedral in Ningbo, Zhejiang province

The document refers to "Three Rectifications and One Demolition" — the rectifications (or "corrections") are performed on buildings referred to as "old residential neighborhoods, old industrial areas and villages inside cities" and the demolition is of "illegal buildings."

Even crosses from churches over 100 years old are among the government's targets. Some churches have been demolished entirely.

Didi Tang / AP

A man stands near the razed remains of a Catholic church in a village in Pingyang county of Wenzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province.

More than 260 church groups from all over China have taken part in a "fasting rally," in which churches will be fasting in turn, each for 24 hours, until the end of the crackdown on churches.

Facebook: permalink.php

Local worshipers are doing all they can to protect their faith. But when faced with the well-equipped law enforcement, all they can do is to cover the crosses with their bodies.


This 85-year-old man was photographed sitting on the top of a Wenzhou church, embracing the stone cross on top for its protection.

RT @chuandaoren 十字架虽然小,经过风吹雨打,已失去那外表的鲜红,但是我依然宝贵衪!老人说:“我今年85岁了,要动十字架,我命一条!”平阳一座山上的古老教堂⛪

Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.

Contact Beimeng Fu at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.