Beijing is cracking down on Christian businesses
Lai Jinqiang, who specialises in selling MP3-like Bible audio players, stood trial on the 7th of December in the coastal city of Shenzhen. Two days later, four other Christians were sentenced by a court for "illegal business operations." The men worked for Life Tree Culture Communication Co. Ltd, which specialises in selling Bible audiobooks.
The owner of the company, Fu Xuanjuan, was imprisoned for five years. The remaining defendants received sentences ranging from eighteen months to three years of imprisonment.
In China, selling Bibles through official channels is allowed. This restriction does not apply to the so-called holy books of other major religions, including Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and even studies of folk beliefs. Christianity was treated particularly harshly, forbidding commercial Bible sales, including via the Internet. The book must be printed in China and sold at Beijing approved church bookstores.
In a relatively short time, Bible audio books became very popular, containing not only biblical verses, but also sermons, songs and other religious content. Until recently, they could be easily purchased through Taobao, China’s largest commercial site.
The authorities in Beijing have since launched a policy intimidating Christians, fearing that too many believers could pose a threat to the rulers and the professed communist ideology. Hence, measures were taken against Christian businesses.