Church in Chains, 20 January 2022
Chinese authorities detained Chen Yu on 11 September 2019 for “illegally selling foreign-published religious materials” and officially arrested him on 18 Oct 2019. His bookshop had sold more than 20,000 books (mostly Bibles and other Christian books) through a Chinese e-commerce platform. Police used the bookshop’s records to contact buyers across China and more than 800 books were confiscated.
On 27 September 2020, after he had spent nearly a year in prison, Linhai People’s Court sentenced him to 7 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 yuan for “illegal business operation”. The government confiscated his mobile phone and ordered the Public Security Bureau to destroy 12,864 books seized from the bookshop. His lawyer submitted an appeal to the Taizhou Intermediate People’s Court.
Bitter Winter reported that police were enraged that Chen Yu sold thousands of copies of the book Transformation of the Gospel by Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence. During the nationwide investigation, officials demanded that customers who had purchased copies of “Transformation of the Gospel” return them.
Bitter Winter commented, “Not coincidentally, it was when the trial against Pastor Wang Yi was being prepared that bookseller Chen Yu was arrested. The prosecutor characterised Chen’s bookselling operation as an ‘anti-Chinese conspiracy,’ because some of the Bibles and books he sold were printed in Taiwan and the United States, and claimed that Chen had more than 10,000 customers.”