Chinese pastor who fought cross removal sentenced to 14 years in prison

A Chinese pastor and his wife have been sentenced to jail in Zhejiang.China Aid

A Chinese pastor, who resisted cross removal, has been sentenced to 14 years in jail and his wife to 12 years, according to an official provincial newspaper.

A court in Southeastern China sentenced pastor Bao Guohua and his wife Xing Wenxiang after convicting them of corruption, financial crimes and gathering people to disturb social order, according to Zhejiang Daily.

The court also fined the couple heavily. Guohua had 600,000 renminbi (£66,000) confiscated and was fined £11,000. His wife had a further £66,000 confiscated and was fined £10,000.

Another ten people who were members of Guohua's church and a Christian group in the same city, Jinhua, in Zhejiang Province, were arrested, according to the newspaper.

The Chinese government has been taking an increasingly hard line regarding religion. In the last two years, officials in Zhejiang have removed more than 1,200 crosses from churches and many church buildings have been destroyed.

The main targets have been unregistered "house churches". Although Guohua had official approval to lead the congregation, it is thought that his resistance to his church's cross being removed led to his detention, according to Zheng Leguo, a house church preacher who lives in United States.

The news of Guohua and his wife's conviction comes just days after Christian Human Rights lawyer, Zhang Kai, gave a televised "confession" on an official Chinese channel. He was arrested is currently in "black jail" after working for churches resisting persecution. He had represented more than 100 churches fighting orders to remove their crosses.