Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A. - The Cardinal Kung Foundation, an advocate of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China, reports the Chinese government's recent assault with three arrests in the underground Catholic Diocese of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province and an additional arrest in Shanghai.
Father WANG Chengzhi and Father SHAO Amin of Wenzhou Diocese, Zhejiang Province were arrested on September 3, and 5, 1999 respectively. Father WANG was arrested in Ou Hai County. Father Shao was arrested in Le Ging County. Their current whereabouts are unknown.
The arrests of Fathers Wang and Shao were immediately followed by the arrest of the Bishop of Wenzhou, Bishop LIN Xili, on September 7. Bishop Lin was arrested in Le Jing County. Before his arrest, Bishop Lin was under an arrest warrant for the last 6 months and was in hiding. Other details of his arrest are unknown at this time. Bishop Lin is 81 years of age, and was consecrated a bishop in 1992. He was previously jailed for about 20 years.
Father CHU Guangyao of the Shanghai Diocese was first arrested on August 3, 1999, and was detained for two days. Afterwards, his home was searched and ransacked. He was arrested again thirteen days later on August 16, 1999. He is in his early sixties. His whereabouts are unknown.
In a related incident on July 31, 1999, His Eminence Cardinal Kung, the exiled Bishop of Shanghai, observed the 50th anniversary of the persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in China on his 98th birthday at a Mass of Thanksgiving in Stamford, Connecticut, USA. This Mass was attended by more than five hundred guests from around the world. On this same day, July 31, Father Chu Guangyao also celebrated Cardinal Kung's birthday in Shanghai by treating his parishioners to a simple noodle dish, which symbolizes longevity. Upon learning of this celebration, the Chinese Security Bureau indicated its displeasure to Father Chu. The fact that he was first arrested only three days after the simple celebration of birthday noodle, although no reasons was given for his arrest, leads the faithful in the underground church to believe that the two incidents are closely related.
Joseph Kung, President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, commented: "Religious persecution obviously continues in China. The communist government's increased arrest of underground Catholics while it vigorously prepares for its October 1st celebration is a strong indication that China has no intention of granting true religious freedom to its citizens. China has achieved significant economic progress during the past 2 decades with much assistance from the free world. This progress has not brought about true religious freedom as many leaders of the free world had hoped. It is, therefore, either naive or unethical for governments of the free world to negotiate with and encourage the Chinese government to enter the World Trade Organization while such religious persecution continues and intensifies. Such acts amount to condoning the five decades of religious persecution in China. As the leaders of the free world attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the People's Republic of China, they must also remember that the religious prisoners are simultaneously observing the 50th anniversary of the religious persecution in China."