U.S., E.U. urge release of jailed Chinese pastor

Persecuted Chinese pastor Wang Yi, shown with his wife Jiang Rong, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges stemming from his leadership of Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, China.
(Baptist Press - ChinaAid photo)

By Diana Chandler - Posted at Baptist Press:

SICHUAN, China (BP) -- The United States and the European Union are urging China to free pastor Wang Yi, sentenced to nine years in prison in what religious liberty advocates call Christian persecution.

China pronounced Wang guilty Dec. 30 of "illegal business operations" and "inciting subversion of state power," convictions religious liberty advocates say stem solely from his leadership as founding pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan.

U.S. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo expressed alarm at Wang's sentence on charges that Pompeo said were "trumped up" and issued with no defense lawyer present.

"We call for his immediate and unconditional release," Pompeo said in a statement Dec. 31. "This is yet another example of Beijing’s intensification of repression of Chinese Christians and members of other religious groups. We continue to call on Beijing to uphold its international commitments and promises made in its own constitution to promote religious freedom for all individuals, including members of ethnic and religious minorities, and those who worship outside of official state-sanctioned institutions."

E.U. spokesman Peter Stano issued a similar appeal on New Year's Day.

"The E.U. is concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion and belief in China," Stano tweeted, "and calls for immediate release of Pastor Wang Yi, who was tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison in connection to his peaceful advocacy of freedom of religion."
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