The People’s Court of Siming District in Xiamen, Fujiang Province, has ordered Pastor Yang Xibo of Xunsiding Church and his wife Wang Xiaofei to pay a fine of 400,000 yuan (approximately €52,000) for “organising an illegal gathering”. The notice of the decision was given during during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in late September and gave a deadline of 9 October for payment. The verdict also restricts the couple from leaving the country.
Yang Xibo and his wife belong to Xunsiding Church, the largest house church in Xiamen, which has been in existence for over a hundred years. Previous pastors of the church were arrested during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s. In recent years, the church has been persecuted for its refusal to join the state-sanctioned Three Self Patriotic Association. The unregistered church was violently raided and forcefully shut down by local authorities in May 2020.
In July 2021, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of Siming District issued an Administrative Penalty Notice to Pastor Yang and Wang Xiaofei. The notice imposed a fine of 200,000 yuan (approximately €26,000) for “organising an illegal gathering”. The couple appealed this verdict, but in November 2021 the fine was upheld.
Yang Xibo then filed another appeal with the Xiamen Jimei District People’s Court at the end of 2021, but the higher court also supported the initial penalty in November 2022. The couple continued to appeal to the Xiamen Intermediate People’s Court, but to no avail.
In April 2023, the Xiamen Intermediate People’s Court issued an Administrative Judgment not only confirming that the pastor and his wife had to pay the fine as soon as possible, but also imposing an additional fine of 200,000 yuan (approximately €26,000), bringing the total cost to 400,000 yuan (approximately €52,000).
On receiving the most recent verdict the couple said it was God’s gift to them. Wang Xiaofei quoted Psalm 2 in her statement: “Therefore, you kings should be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the LORD with fear, and celebrate his rule with trembling.”
(China Aid, Bitter Winter)