China: Evangelical arrested for printing children’s Sunday School materials

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Hong Kong Christian Chen Yueli, whose English name is Stephen, who was involved in the printing of children’s Sunday school materials, was taken away by the police on December 19, 2023, when he entered China through the Shenzhen West Kowloon Customs. At least 8 other Christians were arrested with him. Currently, Chen Yueli has been formally arrested and is charged with “illegal business operations.” He is being held in the Chibi Detention Center in Chibi City, Hubei Province. Despite multiple attempts to visit him, his lawyer has been unable to meet with him. His family is very worried about his condition and health.

Chen Yueli has been residing in mainland China for more than twenty years, shuttling between Hong Kong and the mainland to serve Christian organizations on the mainland. On December 19, 2023, Chen Yueli, accompanied by his two children, traveled from Hong Kong to Yunnan to visit his wife, who had fallen victim to telecommunications fraud. When he passed through the Shenzhen West Kowloon Customs, he was taken away by the local public security bureau. The two underage children were left alone at the scene, but were later picked up by his wife, who lives in Kunming.

According to information obtained from the lawyer’s inquiry with the investigating agency, Chen Yueli was arrested on the charge of “illegal business operations” for his involvement in printing children’s Sunday school materials in Hubei. Initially, he was detained in the Jiayu County Detention Center in Chibi City. However, in early January 2024, during a meeting with his lawyer, Chen Yueli was suddenly taken away by the public security and transferred to the Chibi Detention Center.

The Chibi City Public Security Bureau has consistently obstructed normal lawyer visits, citing the involvement of “national security agents” as the reason for the denial of visitation requests. As a result, Chen Yueli has been out of contact with the outside world. It has been confirmed that he has been formally arrested.

There is no further information available about other Christians who were arrested along with him, and the impact on the local church in Xianning, where Chen Yueli has been serving long-term, remains unknown. — ChinaAid