Crackdown stymies China church's Christmas meeting

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Associated Press

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 3:33 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Lawyers and Christian churchgoers say they were blocked from holding a gathering in a central Chinese county to commemorate Christmas and draw attention to the detention of a pastor and his aides.

Rights attorney Xia Jun said Monday he and several other lawyers were on their way to a prayer meeting at a church in Nanle county when they were blocked by about two dozen middle-aged women he believed were hired by local authorities.

A Christian woman named Shi Ping says she and several others from Shanghai who had traveled to Nanle were escorted to a police station by plainclothes officers who guarded the church entrance.

The monthlong crackdown on the state-sanctioned church started with a land dispute that has pit its popular preacher against the county government.

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