Chinese Megachurch Pastor Arrested As Crackdown On Christians Continues
A Chinese megapastor has been arrested on charges of embezzling funds, according to persecution watchdog China Aid.
The Texas-based charity reports that Gu 'Joseph' Yuese was formally arrested on January 7, after being detained by police before Christmas.
He is being held at the Hangzhou Municipal Detention Center.
He was formally the senior pastor of Chongyi Church, the largest church associated with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement; a government-run Christian organisation.
However, he was fired after being detained in January 2015 for opposing the removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang province.
He was then arrested in February 2015 on the same charges of embezzling funds. He was later released in advance of President Xi Jinping's visit to the US for the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC.
Gu was also previously the chairman of the Zhejiang branch of the China Christian Council, which helps oversee registered churches, and according to China Aid, is "the highest-profile Christian official to be targeted since the Cultural Revolution".
Gu is among a number of pastors and lawyers who have been detained after protesting or working on behalf of churches demolished under the Chinese government's three-year 'Three Rectifications and One Demolition' campaign, which has seen up to 1,700 churches bulldozed or had their crosses removed.
The campaign supposedly has the aim of exposing and removing "illegal structures", but is widely seen as a move to combat the increasing influence of Christianity in the country.