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In June, Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party's central committee, endorsed a nationwide campaign against Christian house-church leaders, according to Chinese government and academic sources. Large roundups targeting house-church leaders took place over the summer.

Observers say Hu is demonstrating, prior to the annual party meeting in October, that he can handle ideological subversion. Previously, Hu led a crackdown in Tibet.

Planning for the anti-Christian campaign took place at an annual meeting of religious affairs personnel in January. The methodology was perfected in previous years during anti-"cult" investigations and arrests. In secret government documents, officials called uncontrolled religions "termites to national security." One provincial security chief said such campaigns should be done as stealthily as possible. "Talk less and smash the cult quietly," he said.

According to Chinese Christian human-rights activist Bob Fu, on June 11 about 100 members of the China Gospel Fellowship were arrested. Then on July 12, more than 100 church leaders were arrested at their summer training retreat in Xinjiang, a volatile northwest frontier area with many Muslims. A large northern China house-church network called Ying Shang Church convened the retreat. Most were released.

The government has also sentenced several Chinese Christian intellectuals to prison for revealing details of a trial of Li Baozhi, a house-church Christian. Li's lawyer said she had phoned a fellow Christian, who is a member of the suppressed Born Again Movement, looking for a job for her son. When police found Li's phone number in her friend's address book, they swept up Li as a conspiratorial "cultist" and tortured ...

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October 2004

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