China pastor who resisted cross removals jailed for corruption
- 26 February 2016
- From the section China
A Christian pastor in China who refused to remove a cross from his church's roof has been jailed for 14 years for corruption and inciting people to disturb social order, reports say.
Chinese media said Bao Guohua had been found guilty of embezzling money from his congregation in Zhejiang province.
His wife, Xing Wenxiang. received 12 years for the same offences.
The couple's supporters say the case is linked to a government crackdown on Christian activity in Zhejiang.
Planning officials there have removed more than 1,000 crosses from churches over the past two years.
Bao Guohua was one of the very few government-approved pastors to resist the removals.
Earlier this month, authorities in Zhejiang said another prominent pastor, Gu Yuese, was being investigated for corruption.
Christian activists said the inquiry was also linked to Mr Gu's open opposition to the crackdown on Christian activity.
The Zhejiang Daily newspaper reported that Bao had been fined more than $15,000 (£10,800) and the court had also ordered another $92,000 confiscated.
The authorities have justified the tearing down of crosses by saying they break planning rules.
But many believe officials want to limit Christianity across the south-eastern province, where the religion has a strong following. Zhejiang is home to many churches, particularly in the city of Wenzhou.
Bao and his wife were detained last August and charged with embezzlement shortly afterwards.