April 3 (UPI) -- Christian churchgoers in China were recently wounded after fighting with officials enforcing new regulations: the installation of surveillance cameras inside churches.
The ordinance to place closed-circuit television cameras in Protestant and Roman Catholic churches was issued in late 2016 by authorities in Zhejiang Province, South China Morning Post reported Monday.
The law comes two years after Chinese authorities ordered churches in the coastal province to remove conspicuous neon crosses from buildings, a movement that began in 2014, according to the report.
The Christian population in provinces like Zhejiang is growing, now numbering 1 million. In 2015, a conservative estimate placed the total number of Christians in China at 23 million.
In the city of Wenzhou, Christians vehemently opposed to camera surveillance clashed with authorities.
"Government officials came to the churches and put up cameras by force. Some pastors and worshipers who didn't agree to the move were dragged away," one unidentified Christian in Wenzhou said, referring to a recent clash. "Some people needed to be treated in a hospital after fighting the officials."
The price of resistance is high.
Huang Yizi, a pastor who was jailed in 2015 for standing up against the removal of crosses, said he is now being closely watched after telling foreign reporters of the camera installations in March.
According to China Aid, a U.S.-based religious rights group, churches were required to place cameras at church gates, rostrums and offering boxes.
Worshipers in China are confused about the policy.
"We Christians do good deeds and we don't do anything to endanger the public. I don't understand why the government wants to monitor us," one churchgoer said.