A Hong Kong pastor is warning that mainland Chinese authorities are trying to interfere with freedom of religion in the city, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
Rev. Philip Woo Siu-hok said he was summoned to Shenzhen by officials of the Religious Affairs Bureau of that city’s Futian district on July 1, the day China’s new National Security Law was passed.
Woo, of Hong Kong’s Christian Church of Chinese Ministry, said the officials demanded that he sign to acknowledge a “notice of a rectification order” concerning an event his church held in Hong Kong last year to train Christian clergy.
Many of those who attended came from the mainland.
The officials warned him not to preach to students or other religious followers from the mainland in Hong Kong, or he would be punished for violating regulations on religious affairs, Woo said.
He said he was shown documents including “Provisions on the Management of the Religious Activities of Foreigners within the People’s Republic of China” and “Guangdong Province Regulations on Religious Affairs”.
The officials told him those regulations apply to Hong Kong as well, covering both training and preaching, Woo said.
Clearly this was interference with freedom of religion in Hong Kong by Chinese authorities, he said.
Woo said he believed the warning to him was related to the new security law, as similar events had been held before in Hong Kong and promoted through local websites without facing any problems.
He said he was told that he was not the only one the mainland authorities had called in and would not be the last.
More than 300 religious people and protesters who took part in last year’s Occupy movement were punished when they entered the mainland, Woo said.
He said he feared that clergy in Hong Kong would face penalties once they entered the mainland, as many mainlanders have been coming to the city to attend events at which the religious ministers preached.
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