China Sentences Christian Leader To 9 Years In Prison
Wang Yi (second from right) and other human rights activists from China meet with former President George W. Bush at the White House in 2006. Wang Yi was arrested in December 2018 by Chinese authorities and now has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Wang Yi, a leader in one of the most well-known Christian congregations in China, has been quietly sentenced to nine years in prison, according to a statement on the website of the Intermediate People's Court of Chengdu Municipality.
The sentencing is the latest incident in an ongoing crackdown on organized religion in China. Early Rain Covenant Church, which Wang founded in 2008, attracted about 500 followers and was considered one of the most influential "underground churches" in China, operating independently of the state.
Wang was charged with "subverting state power." He, his wife, Jiang Rong, and about 100 congregants were detained last December after police raided the church during a Sunday evening service. Authorities said the church violated religious regulations because it was not registered with the government.
Another prominent Protestant congregation with nearly 1,500 followers, Zion Church in Beijing, was raided and shut down last September.
Most of Early Rain's congregants were eventually released after a period of days or months. Several congregants have since escaped to Taiwan and are applying for asylum in the U.S.