BANGKOK — Days after flying to Thailand to seek asylum, members of a Chinese church huddled in a restaurant to share their stories with journalists. But when they peered over their shoulders, they spotted strangers taking videos of them with cellphones.
In seconds, they scattered, fearing Chinese state security had come for them yet again.
“Political pressure is rising, and there’s more and more ideological control,“ said Pastor Pan Yongguang, whose church has been on the run for years. “The persecution is growing worse.”
The story of the exile of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church illustrates how the Chinese government is going to increasing lengths to control religious faith and its citizens, even far outside its borders.
Since leaving China for South Korea’s resort island of Jeju three years ago, Pan’s 61 congregants have been stalked, harassed, and received threatening calls and messages despite fleeing hundreds of kilometers (miles) away, he said. Relatives back in China…