Chinese authorities have reportedly detained five Chinese Christians in Shanxi province for attending a conference in Malaysia last year.
In a report, rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) identified one of those arrested as Zhang Ligong who was detained on July 13.
The man was released after serving a 15-day “administrative detention” on July 28 but two of his co-workers who went to pick him up were arrested on the spot.
Police arrested from their homes the other Christians went to Malaysia last year to attend the “KL2020 Gospel and Culture” Christian conference.
“It is a shame that the Chinese government constantly manipulates laws to violate the religious freedom of its citizens,” said Gina Goh, ICC regional manager, in a statement on July 29.
She said that since the “Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs” of China took effect in February 2018, the government has added more laws seeking to curb religious activities that are not state-sanctioned.
“Beijing is paranoid about Chinese Christians’ interaction with Christians overseas,” said Goh, adding that authorities as penalizing Christians “to deter them from ‘receiving foreign influence.’”
According to the ICC, the Xuncheng Reformed Church in China has been “heavily targeted” in recent months, including constant harassment and the detention of a preacher and several members.
Reports of persecution of Christians have become more frequent in recent years, including the demolition of churches and the arrest of religious leaders.