All unofficial religious activity will be suppressed with house churches forced to disband and strict travel restrictions in place as China continues its attempt to undermine the Vatican.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party is officially atheist with more than half of China’s 1.4billion population not associated with any religion or belief.
With Christians banned from travelling abroad for religious purposes, strict restrictions on house churches and a series of raids on pastors, an increasing number of believers have been put behind bars.
But furious Christians are fighting back turning the very strict rules imposed by the authorities back on them.
Xu Xiangmei was jailed for 10 days after being accused of “preventing police officers from carrying out public services” following a raid on unregistered churches in Heilongjiang and Anhui provinces.
Party officials raided the Living Water and Blessed Lamb Church in Hegang, Helongjiang, during a service and detained a number of members, including Ms Xiangmei.
Witnesses said officers pushed Ms Xiangmei into the back of a patrol car, slapped her and grabbed her by the scruff of her neck.
The church normally attracts up to 60 people for regular worship but on the day of the raid nearly 200 people had gathered to listen to a guest preacher visiting from Hong Kong.
One witness said:
“Officers from the religious affairs bureau, public security bureau and civil affairs bureau broke into the church and rushed to the second floor.
“We blocked them off and prevented them from going further upward.
“A young man from the public security bureau forced his way in while we were praying and singing hymns.
“They threw Xu to the ground and then pushed her into a patrol car and took her away.”
Under Chinese law, the authorities must inform the families of prisoners that their loved one is being held and where they are being detained within 24 hours of an arrest.
But Ms Xiangmei claims her detention was unlawful and is suing Gongnong District Public Security Bureau after her family were not informed.
She is also demanding the court revoke her punishment and clear it from her record after the officer who made the arrest reportedly did not show any credentials or give his name.
The raid comes as the Chinese Communist Party tightens its grip on Christianity.
In a series of restrictions, the regime will be able to force house churches to disband and place limits on teaching posts in foreign countries.
It is already illegal for children to receive a religious education in the atheist country and there have also been bans on singing hymns and praying as well as reports of crosses being removed from buildings.
The latest controlling laws are expected to come into force in October and could see Christians fined nearly £30,000 for holding an unauthorized church service.
Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, said:
“This proposed revision of the regulation on religious affairs in China represents the harshest and most strict policy on controlling religions and religious affairs since the time of Cultural Revolution.
“Contrary to the commitment of protection on freedom of religious belief in China’s Constitution, this will further infringe millions of Chinese citizens’ freedom of religion and belief.
“For Christians, it technically leaves no legal room for the existence of the house churches and bible reading as well as prayer meetings without explicitly being approved by the Chinese Communist Party controlled patriotic associations and religious affairs bureaus.
“It even forbids any religious activities such as prayer when a church involves charitable work. The new regulation dramatically expands bureaucratic controls on religious activities with additional levels of administrative agencies such as community council and village administration.”