As a meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) convened this month, Beijing police detained two Christians who had travelled there specifically to pray for the proceedings.
NPC is believed to be the largest parliamentary body in the world. Its members have four main responsibilities: to amend the Constitution and oversee its enforcement; to enact and amend the basic law governing criminal offenses, civil affairs, state organs and other matters; to elect and appoint members to the central state organs; and to determine major state issues.
A major Christian nonprofit, ChinaAid, announced that officers patrolling the Great Hall of the People in Beijing detained Zhou Jinxia from Dalian, Liaoning, and Shi Xinhong from Bengbu, Anhui, after they attempted to enter the Hall with evangelism pamphlets.
About an hour after the conference began, Zhou and Shi said they arrived to pray for the event.
Zhou explained the situation to a reporter: "Today is the opening of a conference between the NPC and the CPPCC, and we wished to pray for our compatriots, the attendees of the conference, and the country itself with the hope that our nation will be blessed with peace and freedom. Sister Shi Xinhong was stopped on the way to the Great Hall. I left her and continued on. I called her later in the day and realized that she had been seized by the police, who questioned Sister Shi about my whereabouts from the other side of the phone. With Sister Shi in their hands, [the police] searched for half an hour and failed to locate me. I proceeded, but the Hall was heavily guarded and there was no way for me to get in. I abandoned the prayer I prepared earlier on the street."
Shi said police cornered her in an alley, demanded to see her personal identification, and took her to the police station.
Likewise, police seized Zhou as she prayed facing the Great Hall of the People and demanded to see her identification. The women said they reunited at the police station, and officers transferred them to a department that handles petitions. The two were deported home, according to ChinaAid, whose representatives stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.