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Chinese authorities clamp down on film about overseas Chinese Christians

Country/Region: South and East Asia, China

The Chinese authorities have confiscated copies of a new documentary about overseas Chinese Christians and detained a chief representative of the company that produced and distributed them. 

Jiang Yaxi, the “enterprise legal person” of the Beijing Shamozhihua (Flowers in the Desert) Television and Film Co., was seized from her home by special agents of the Domestic Security Department on 11 November.

Jiang-Yaxi-4X3.jpg
Jiang Yaxi was seized
from her home last month
Image source: www.ChinaAid.org

She had reportedly been under investigation since August over her company’s production and distribution of Beyond by Christian filmmaker the Rev. Yuan Zhiming, who was once on the Chinese government’s most-wanted list for his part in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989. He fled to the United States, and became a Christian two years later. Beyond is a nine-part DVD series that tells the inspirational stories of Chinese people whose lives were transformed when they went to another country and found Christ.

In early August, an inspection team from the Beijing Culture Bureau searched a bookshop in the city and confiscated 40 sets of Beyond. The shop was fined 4,000 yuan (US$630) for selling illegal goods; however, Jiang’s production company insists that the title has an ISBN number, which is issued only to government-approved publications and recordings, and is therefore a legal product.  

The authorities then raided the production company, demanding all records related to Beyond, and searched the warehouse, confiscating all Beyond products that were being stored there. The company was reportedly fined 10,000 yuan (US$1,575).

The police have started formal legal proceedings against Jiang; she has been placed under criminal detention, which is the first step in a process that almost always results in conviction of a crime.

Yuan Zhiming is the chief director of China Soul for Christ Foundation, which produces documentaries and other resources for and about Chinese Christians.

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