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Chinese city orders Christian residents to register with government as crackdown on religion continues

(Reuters/Lang Lang/Files)A local resident rides a bicycle past a church in Xiaoshan, a commercial suburb of Hangzhou, the capital of China's east Zhejiang province December 21, 2006.

Local authorities in a city in China's central Henan province has reportedly told Christians and other religious residents to register with the government.

According to China Aid, all residents with religious beliefs in the city of Anyang have been instructed to register with the government.

An officer at the Pingyuan Neighborhood Committee noted that believers have been told to bring their "household registration and ID card."

"Fill out a form, fill in your name, birth date, address, religious background, when you converted, the religious background of your family members, etc," the officer said, as reported by China Aid.

A notice obtained by China Aid states: "Residents who are Buddhists, Taoists, Catholics, (other forms of) Christian, and Muslims should register at the Neighborhood Committee located on the third floor of the Golden Vienna Community as soon as possible."

Although the notice, dated April 4, mentioned other government-recognized religions, some have complained that Christians are being targeted.

"In the past two months, the government banned all Catholic churches and (Protestant) house churches, and that didn't happen to any other religions," an anonymous Christian told China Aid on Thursday.

An employee at the neighborhood committee has said that the participation in the census is not compulsory, according to World Watch Monitor, citing the Global Times.

In Lushan County, Christians attending state-run Three Self Churches were reportedly required to attend a conference for ideological reorientation. Church leaders met with local religious affairs bureau officials and were reportedly told to study the county's revised Religious Affairs Regulations.

Local officials reportedly demanded that all local churches should hang the Chinese flag. They also reiterated that minors are not allowed to attend church services, and no religious posters are permitted on local buildings.

Christian residents have noted that religious activities in villages are being heavily monitored by the government. New branches of the religious affairs bureaus are reportedly being set up in villages and towns, and village officials have been tasked with managing religious activities in their jurisdiction.

The government in Henan has also stepped up its campaign against church crosses, with both underground and state-recognized churches being affected by the crackdown.

A believer, who only wanted to be identified by his surname Cao, noted that officials had ordered the removal of an outdoor cross of a newly constructed Three-Self Church because it violated regulations.

Church-run schools have also been targeted in the campaign. Last month, the government in Anyang shut down a church-run kindergarten, leaving 60-70 children without a school. One local resident complained that other kindergartens that are not run by churches have not been closed. "Authorities pay more attention to kindergartens run by Christians," a local source told World Watch Monitor.

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