Ningbo tells churches to install security systems over ‘safety concerns’

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/22 21:23:40

Religious authorities in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province have required churches to install surveillance systems since 2015 over safety concerns.

"The requirement covers all public places in Ningbo, and does not single out churches," Jin Ke, deputy director of the office in charge of Christian issues at Ningbo's ethnic and religious affairs bureau, told the Global Times.

Echoing Jin, Gao Jianwei, Ningbo Christian Council chairman, told the Global Times that "surveillance systems have also been installed at schools and hospitals in Ningbo."

"Some churches, such as the Ningbo Centennial Church, voluntarily installed a surveillance system in 2000 for protection," Gao added.

In early March, the Ningbo Christian Council and Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches (TSPM) issued an installation notice to all Christian churches, a local pastor surnamed Yu, who also works at the council and TSPM, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that some churches in the city voluntarily installed surveillance systems in 2016.

The move was made based on a document issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in 2015 to protect public places, said Jin, refusing to explain why the widespread installation came two years later.

The NDRC document says that China will equip key public areas with video surveillance by 2020 to fight crime and improve public service. Public areas, such as roads, will be fully covered by cameras, said the document.

The move aims to enhance public security, optimize traffic conditions and improve social management, it added.

Christianity was introduced in Zhejiang about 150 years ago, according to the province's religious authority. The province was at the center of media attention after it launched a campaign to renovate the region from 2013 to 2015, which led to the demolition of many Christian churches.

In April 2014, hundreds of churches protested a demolition order against the Sanjiang Church in Yongjia county, Zhejiang, but the church was ultimately torn down, according to a previous report by the Global Times.


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