14 March 2000 (Newsroom) — Chinese house church leader Li Dexian was detained by police on Tuesday morning and released the same evening without harm. The Protestant evangelist was arrested by Public Security Bureau officers at his weekly 10 a.m. Bible study in Huadu near Guangzhou for the 11th time since October, a source in Hong Kong told Newsroom.
The Hong Kong source, who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that authorities are trying to discourage Li by continuing the arrests without any indication of how long they might go on, or what they might do next. “I think they are trying to break him down, but they don’t realize that he is looking far higher than earthly authorities,” the source said.
Li’s profile abroad has helped keep him from a long prison sentence, the source said. A photograph of the church leader was given to British Prime Minister Tony Blair who showed it to Chinese President Jiang Zemin on a state visit to the United Kingdom last October.
Some 600 people attend Li’s weekly meeting in the Guangdong province village. The current wave of arrests began on October 11 when about 200 police arrived at Li’s meeting place in Huadu and destroyed the building’s annex. His most recent arrest, before Tuesday, was on February 23.
Chinese authorities insist that Li’s ministry, like all religious work in China, must submit to the control of the state. Protestant churches are required to register under the authority of the official Three-self Patriotic Movement.
Copyright © 2000 Newsroom.
Used with permission.