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Chinese bookseller ‘jailed for 7 years for selling religious titles’

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Chinese online store owner is jailed for seven years for selling religious books, reports claim

  • Christian bookseller Chen Yu has reportedly been jailed for trading ‘illegal’ titles
  • His store carried Chinese religious book published in the US and Taiwan, it is said
  • He also faced £22,760 fine and the impounding of his iPhone, a document shows 
  • China’s law stipulates that all publishers must serve Socialism and the people 

By MailOnline Reporter

Published: | Updated:

A Chinese online bookstore owner has reportedly been jailed for seven years for selling religious books.

Chen Yu, a Christian believer, has been found guilty of ‘illegal business operations’ after trading religious titles from foreign publishers through his e-commerce shop based in China, according to multiple news outlets.

Chen’s sentence shows that Beijing ‘is increasingly frightened by all things religious’, a human rights organisation has said.

Chen Yu, a Chinese online bookseller, has reportedly been sentenced to seven years in prison after trading Chinese-language religious books that were published overseas in his home country. The above file photo shows a row of prayer books in traditional Chinese

Chen ran the Xiaomai Book Chamber (above) on Weidian, a Chinese e-commerce app boasting more than 80million vendors in 211 countries. He allegedly sold more than 20,000 books

Chen ran the Xiaomai Book Chamber on Weidian, a Chinese e-commerce app boasting more than 80million vendors in 211 countries.

With an online moniker of Zhang Xiaomai, he allegedly sold more than 20,000 books, including nearly 800 that were deemed as ‘illegal publications’ by Chinese authorities, reported Radio France Internationale

According to US-based Radio Free Asia, many of the books came from the United States and Taiwan. Chen was labelled as an ‘anti-China force’ by police and officers also searched the homes of his customers to confiscated their purchases, the website said. 

Chen was detained on September 1 last year and sentenced late last month, reported China Aid, a US human rights organisation founded by American-Chinese pastor Bob Fu.

China’s law stipulates that its publishing industry must serve Socialism and be guided by Mao Zedong Thought. The above photo taken on February 20, 2013, shows a Chinese Catholic reading from a prayer book at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing

A statement from the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism shows that Chen’s bookshop was penalised on October 9 last year. The authority did not specify the form of penalty. 

Chen’s online shop is still accessible from London as of writing. 

A picture circulating on social media shows that the Linhai People’s Court handed Chen a seven-year prison sentence and a 200,000 yuan (£22,760) fine on September 27.

The image, believed to be part of a court document, also states that police would confiscate Chen’s iPhone and destroy his 12,864 ‘illegal’ books which had been impounded by the Linhai City Public Security Bureau.

MailOnline is unable to verify the authenticity of the document independently. 

Chinese priest Father Francis Liu, who shared the information on Twitter, told MailOnline that the picture came from a religious chatting group on WeChat, the Chinese equivalent to WhatsApp. 

In this photo taken on June 2, 2018, a worker jumps from a truck parked in front of a church and the Chinese national flag near the city of Pingdingshan in central China’s Henan province

Washington-based human rights group International Christian Concern has condemned Chen’s reported sentence.

Gina Goh, the group’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said: ‘The sentence for Mr. Chen Yu shows how the Chinese government is increasingly frightened by all things religious.

‘From religious symbols, Chinese couplets, to Christian books, anything that features religious elements is no longer tolerated by the Chinese Communist Party.’

All book publishers in China are subject to strict state censorship. The country’s law stipulates that its publishing industry must serve Socialism and the people, and be guided by Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. 

Last year, the ruling Communist Party ordered the country’s religious authorities to censor all translated versions of classic holy books to make sure that their messages would reflect the principles of Socialism.

The new editions must not contain any content that goes against the beliefs of the Communist Party, according to the country’s top officials on religious matters.  

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