Chinese Church VoicesChurch and State

The Sanjiang Church Incident

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.


On April 4, the western press began reporting on a church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province that was surrounded by thousands of parishioners who were blocking a crew sent to demolish the church. As reported, local officials had initially ordered that the cross be removed from the church, and later said the church was built illegally and had ordered its destruction. The story was a hot topic both inside and outside of China, and has come to be known as The Sanjiang Church Incident.

On April 5, Tom Phillips, of the Telegraph tweeted: "Communist officials in Zhejiang appear to have retreated from church demolition plans, 1 member says. "I'm so glad to hear this decision.""

On April 11, The mainland website Gospel Times published the following update on the situation, confirming the agreement, which will allow the church to keep the building and the cross, but requires them to 'take care of the ancillary building' in the back, which the church acknowledged had been built without the proper permits.

Today the Sanjiang Church Began Demolishing Two Floors of the Ancillary Building

On the morning of April 10, workers began tearing down the two floors of the 8-floor ancillary building of the Sanjiang Church in Yanjiu County of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang.

Gospel Times has received word from a Sanjiang Church worker that the church has hired a team of workers; this team has begin work on removing the top 2 floors of the annex building.

A sister at the site also communicated that the believers at the site were reacting calmly to this, and that people are still gathered in the church singing and praying.

The worker acknowledged the frustration over the situation and the difficulties in obtaining the necessary permission. The seven-story building ancillary building was built without the proper and formal approval.

The church was being used as an apartment for the elderly, and before this crisis exploded, some older church members were living in it.

The Sanjiang Church Incident started when they were asked to dismantle the cross, and gradually expanded to include the ancillary building and the main building itself.

Based on unconfirmed rumors that the church was going to be razed to the ground, on April 3 and 4, more than three thousand believers gathered to protect the church.

On the afternoon of April 4, the church and the local officials reached an agreement, declaring that "the church need not be torn down, and the cross need not be taken down." However, as to the matter of the illegal ancillary building, "it is best for the church to take the initiative and solve the problem."

At noon on April 5, the county government issued a notice that the "Illegal building must be disposed of according to the law."Original article and photo: (translated and posted by permission)

Related Articles: (April 4, 2014, Gospel Times)

Chinese Christians Communist Party to Halt Church "Demolition Campaign" (April 8, The Telegraph)

Official Denies Order to Tear Down Churches in Wenzhou (April 10, The Global Times)

China Denies Church Demolition Campaign, but Says Christianity's Growth "Excessive." (April 10, the Telegraph)

Image credit: Huffington Post

ChinaSource Team

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