The government of Mengka Township, Ximeng County, Yunnan Province has long suppressed the development of Christianity, persecuting minority ethnic Christians and Han [Chinese] missionaries, and strictly banning personal ownership of the Bible.
Mengka Township, Ximeng County, Yunnan Province, on the border with Myanmar, has been home to the Wa minority for many generations. Across the border in Myanmar are also a large number of Wa villages, and this area has traditionally been called Wa State. Due to transportation difficulties, this region is backwards in terms of social and economic development, but it boasts a rather long tradition of [Christian] faith. Many Wa people are descendants of Christians who converted several generations earlier. In Myanmar, 90 percent of Wa State is Christian; these believers can freely worship God, and legally and freely proclaim the Gospel and build churches.
But their Wa compatriots on the Chinese side, who are separated from them by just a mountain or a river, have no real religious freedom. They have long been threatened and suppressed by the local government: not allowed to build churches, to gather together for Sunday worship or to study the Bible. The local authorities often go door-to-door searching and confiscating Bibles. Some believers have had their been low income benefits and medical care benefits terminated because of their religious belief.
Sixty-two-year-old Sister Wang Yumei from Henan province came with other believers in 2005 to preach the Gospel in Yunnan’s Wa Autonomous State in Ximeng County. But just about every year, they have been suppressed and persecuted by the government and police at various levels, including Mengka Township, village and neighborhood committee. They are not allowed to evangelize or to meet together for worship. The large number of Bibles they brought with them has been unlawfully confiscated by the government many times. The persecution has become especially serious in the past few years. So far this year, the township government, the township judicial office, police station, rubber plantation, neighborhood committee and village committee have collaboratively launched many campaigns, going from village to village and searching for Bibles house by house. Whenever they enter a village, the village committee’s megaphone broadcasts an announcement about “forbidding illegal evangelism and confiscating illegal Bibles”. Then the village committee officials lead inspectors to enter into each family’s home to search, threatening and terrorizing believers and forcibly confiscating their Bibles. Those who refuse to turn in their Bibles or who participate in “illegal religious activities” have their low income benefits and agricultural benefits, etc. terminated. The local government has been ceaseless in creating atmosphere terror that “believing in religion is a crime” which has made it impossible for believers to participate in any Christian activities. For many brothers and sisters, the only option is to climb over the mountain or cross a river to go to worship services in Myanmar’s Wa State.