Chinese authorities on Monday began demolishing the main sanctuary of the Protestant Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou after nearly a month-long standoff with congregants over the legality of the structure, reports Ucanews.
Since early April, congregants had stood watch over the structure amid fears that authorities would remove a giant cross on the top of the main sanctuary, as local sources say the government had issued orders for the removal of 14 other crosses from churches in and around the area.
'Roads leading to the Sanjiang Church were blocked this morning. Armed police and officers from the Special Task Force were dispatched to the district,' said a Protestant source who asked not to be named.
The source added that security forces have also made several arrests. 'At least five Sanjiang Church leaders as well as Xu Kede, a pastor at the nearby Tengqiao Church who visited Sanjiang over the weekend, have now been detained,' the source said.
Since last week, at least 3,000 congregants took up residence in Sanjiang Church to prevent authorities from removing the sanctuary’s cross. Church officials had been negotiating with local authorities, who argued that part of the complex had been built illegally on farmland it did not own. The church agreed to remove four storeys of the six-storey annex by April 24.
FULL STORY Chinese authorities demolish sanctuary of Wenzhou church (Ucanews)