CHINA: Zhang Chunlei’s case “still being processed”

Zhang ChunleiA judge has told the wife of imprisoned church leader Elder Zhang Chunlei that his case is “still being processed” due to its “special nature”.

Elder Zhang Chunlei leads the banned Guiyang Ren’ai Reformed Church in Guizhou province and has been in detention since March 2021. He stood trial for “fraud and inciting subversion of state power” in November 2022 but the court’s verdict was never made public.

On 11 March 2024 Elder Zhang’s wife Yang Aiqing went to the Intermediate People’s Court of Guiyang City, hoping to speak with Judge Song Qingsong, who is handling the case. She was unable to meet the judge as the court was in session and had to leave.

The next morning Yang Aiqing called the judge and when she eventually got through she asked why the court had not reached a conclusion on her husband’s case. Judge Song explained that the case was still being processed and said that, due to the special nature of the case, further time was needed.

Yang Aiqing reportedly replied, “The court’s delay in judgment citing the special nature of the case is not a valid reason” and asked the judge, “Isn’t it just because of my husband’s Christian faith? An official arrogantly declared that because Zhang Chunlei did not cooperate with their proposal and acted stubbornly, they would ‘deal with’ him purposely. If the law becomes a tool for doing evil deeds, destruction is not far away. God is watching your act. God will punish those who pervert justice and do evil.”

Ren’ai Reformed Church is an unregistered house church that has suffered heavy persecution including repeated raids since it was banned by local government. After a raid on a church gathering on 16 March 2021, when several members were arrested and had their homes searched, Elder Zhang went to the police station to inquire about the situation. He was immediately detained and was put in administrative detention for 11 days, followed by criminal detention for 37 days.

After the criminal detention expired Elder Zhang was charged with “fraud“, a common accusation used against leaders of unregistered churches in China, and was formally arrested. In January 2022 he was also charged with “inciting subversion of state power”. Guiyang Municipal Intermediate Procuratorate combined both charges into one case and in November 2022 he was tried at Guiyang Intermediate People’s Court, but no judgement was ever pronounced.

Elder Zhang’s defence lawyer Zhao Qingshan commented, “The trial was held on November 29, 2022, has yet to be adjudicated, and bail has not been granted. The members of the collegial panel never informed us of the postponement. Whenever we call the court, no one answers, or if they do, they claim it’s not their responsibility, or that the person handling the case is currently unavailable, or they say they can’t hear us clearly and ask to call back later… Is the Intermediate People’s Court of Guiyang City trying to abolish the Criminal Procedure Law?


In early January this year Elder Zhang wrote a poem in prison titled Reflection.

Over a year has passed since the court convened, no verdict has yet been rendered,

Detained for so long, what purpose does it serve?

Imprisoned almost three years, fingers count the time,

Looking up, the sayings of Jesus on the cross brings peace.

Not expecting justice in this mortal realm,

Only knowing that the Heavenly Father will rectify wrongs.

May the earth be filled with the light of the lamp,

And freedom return amid songs of praise.

Read Zhang Chunlei’s Prisoner Profile.

(China Aid)

Photo credit: China Aid