Director of church-run nursery released after two years in prison in China

Cheng Jie's two sons and her husband picked Cheng up from prison following her release.Photo use with permission from China Aid

The director of a nursery run by a church in China has been released from prison after serving two years for "engaging in illegal business operations", the charity China Aid reported.

Cheng Jie, director of the Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten in Guangxi, was picked up from the prison by her husband and two sons.

Lizhou authorities took Cheng into custody in February two years ago.  A few months later, officials also crossed the border into the neighboring Guangdong province and detained Huang Qiurui, the elder of Guangzhou's Liangren Church, which founded Hualin Kindergarten. Along with Huang, authorities detained Li Jiatao, a Liangren Church member, and Fang Bin, a man contracted to print textbooks for the school.

All four were convicted and imprisoned for printing non-government educational textbooks and then selling the books.

Their defence argued unsuccessfully that the books were sold only for enough money to allow the nursery to break even on its printing costs. The defence believed the school was targeted because of its church links.

China has a fast-growing Christian minority. Although the cross-removal campaign in Zhejiang province has apparently slowed, church meetings are still vulnerable to being targeted in other provinces such as Guangdong. The objective appears to be one of maintaining strict control of all religions, not just Christianity, according to Open Doors.