This month we are focusing on Chinese Christian lawyer Zhang Kai who was detained by the Chinese Government in August this year. Zhang, a Beijing human rights lawyer, has been defending churches in the courts against the continuing campaign by the authorities to demolish church buildings and tear down crosses. China has rounded up more than 200 human rights lawyers this year. They are believed to be holding Zhang in a so-called unregistered ‘black jail’ at a secret location.
More…Prisoner Name: Zhang Kai
Arrested: August 2015
Sentence: Six months
Arrest and background
Zhang Kai, a Beijing-based Christian lawyer with the Xinqiao Law
Firm in Beijing, was seized by security ofﬁcials on August 25 in
Wenzhou, a city in the eastern province of Zhejiang. Zhang had been
in Wenzhou offering legal support to churches battling a controversial
Communist Party demolition initiative that has targeted Christian places of worship since late 2013.
Zhang is passionate in his defence of those who are being treated unjustly by the Chinese authorities.
He courageously defended Pastor Huang Yizi when he was charged in connection with his opposition
to the removal of church crosses. In July 2015 Zhang announced the formation of a group of some 30
lawyers who would defend churches under attack in Zhejiang. He called the group ‘Lawyers for the
protection of the cross.’
Writing on Weibo, China’s social media site, two weeks before his detention, Zhang said: ‘I have
thought it through: at worst they can put me in jail. But if I keep silent, I will regret it for the rest of my
Many Christians believe the removal of more than 1,200 crosses, and the complete demolition of some
churches in Zhejiang, is a deliberate attempt by the authorities to intimidate local Christians, restrict
church growth and discourage local believers from meeting together.
Zhang had been an outspoken critic of the cross removals. In March he posted an online essay
denouncing the Communist Party’s treatment of Chinese churchgoers. ‘I believe it is God’s calling and a
compelling and historic mission for today’s Christian lawyers to seek justice and promote reconciliation
and the rule of law,’ he wrote.
‘People always ask me, what is the political environment going to be like this year? Will there be
more oppression against churches? I want to answer with words from the Bible. ‘‘Suffering produces
perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’’ We should thank God for having been
born in China in this era.’
A notice from Wenzhou public security ofﬁcials that was published on social media said Zhang, whose
whereabouts are not known, was being held on suspicion of two crimes.
The ﬁrst is ‘gathering and disturbing social order’, while the second, and potentially more serious,
charge is ‘stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to entities outside