Here’s a summary of a piece over at Forum 18:
Economics has a large effect on China’s religious freedom, Forum 18 News Service notes. Factors such as the need of religious communities for non-state income, significant regional wealth disparities, conflicts over economic interests, and artificially-induced dependence on the state income all provide the state with alternative ways of exercising control over religious communities. Examples where economics has a noticeable effect on religious freedom include, to Forum 18’s knowledge, the Buddhist Shaolin Temple’s business enterprises, clashes between Buddhist temple personnel and the tourism industry, the demolition of a Protestant church in Zhejiang Province, the expropriation of Catholic properties in Xian and Tianjin for commercial development, the dependence of senior state-sanctioned religious leaders on the state for personal income, and competition between and amongst registered and unregistered religious groups. Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of economic clashes is the state, which can use both control of income and also favouritism in economic conflicts to restrict religious freedom.
A pastor in the Three-Self Church in Pinglu County, Shanxi Province was prohibited from preaching and forced to leave the church by the Religious Affairs Bureau. The Pinglu Church invited a Hong Kong-based American pastor, Dennis Balcombe (Chinese name Bao Dening), to visit the church. The evening of July 9th, the head of the Pinglu Religious Affairs Bureau, Zhang Lianjie, came to the church and tried to dismiss the Bible classes and forbid the children to listen to Bible stories. He returned the next day with more officials, forcing the elders to retract their invitation to Pastor Bao Dening. In spite of immense pressure, church activities continued. On July 24th, Zhang came again and announced that a meeting would be held the next day to “discuss” Pastor Hu Qinghua’s leaving Pinlu. All the members of TSPM (Three-Self-Patriotic Movement) and CCC (Chinese Christianity Council) were to be at the meeting. The meeting began at 6 p.m. and the elders enumerated the achievements of Pastor Hu since taking charge of the church. The meeting continued till 11 p.m., but no matter how hard the elders insisted, Zhang Lianjie declared that Pastor Hu Qinghua had to leave Pinglu Church immediately. Pastor Hu Qinghua has left Pinglu, but he still tries to comfort and encourage the brothers and sisters in Linglu Church, by phone, to stand firm in the truth.