At the beginning of the month, the government forcibly demolished a nursing home established by the Baishitang Church in Luhe County, Shanwei, Guangdong province. Before it was levelled, more than 100 Christians used the nursing home as a gathering point.
On 14 May, a person from the area revealed that a local Christian nursing home was bulldozed by the government a week ago. “In early May, the government razed the nursing home to [the] ground, which the church spent hundreds of thousands to build. The government of Shanwei planned the demolition of the nursing home, which was also used as a gathering place.”
The city government dispatched 200-300 people to knock down the nursing home. According to Shanwei Christians, the government used the excuse that the church was constructed illegally, without government permission. Chinese policies dictate that Christians be required to apply for permission at the county religious affairs bureau and wait for permission from the city government before setting up a religious venue.
The church members emphasized that they built a nursing home, not a church. Members of the Baishitang Church planned to hire a lawyer, but the government officials prevented them from doing so through coercion.
A church member named Chen said, “[Another Christian] wanted to help them find a lawyer, but the officials threatened that the government would arrest the church members if they hired lawyers or petitioned at superior governments. They no longer dare to search for lawyers. The case is hopeless.”
The church members raised more than 600,000 yuan (approximately $124,115) and renovated the church in November of 2009. The leader of the church was Pastor Han, who kept a low profile.