Chinese pastor jailed for resisting cross-removal campaign is released

A Chinese pastor jailed for resisting the government-backed cross removal campaign wass been released on Monday after eight months in prison, according to US-based human rights organisation China Aid.

The Communist Party is believed to be becoming progressively more suspicious of the influence of Christianity, which is experiencing significant growth in China.Reuters

Zhang Chongzhu, a pastor of state-approved Pyongyang Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church in the Zhejiang province of China, was taken into custody on September 8, 2015.

Initial reports suggested that Zhang went missing as he returned from a business trip to Shanghai, about 500km north of his home in Gaosha village, Pingyang County.

He had previously been detained by police on August 25 after holding a meeting with lawyer Zhang Kai, who is now serving a six month sentence in a 'black jail' on suspicion of endangering state security and disturbing the public order.

The two had both been scheduled to meet the US Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, before Zhang Kai's arrest, which led to members of his church making a connection between this meeting and his detention.

Kai had been representing churches battling orders to remove their crosses amid a crackdown on places of worship in the region, while Zhang Chongzhu has publicly called for Christians to oppose the demolition.

Zhang Chongzhu had spent over a year publically resisting the cross demolition campaign and was charged with "stealing, spying, buying, or illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to entities outside China".

He was charged with the same offences as Zhang Kai.