A court in China’s southern Yunnan province sentenced a North Carolina pastor to seven years in prison today and heavily fined him on a trumped up charge of “organizing illegal border crossing.” His colleague also received a one-year jail sentence and a fine.
John Cao, a North Carolina pastor well-respected for building 16 schools that service 2,000 impoverished minority children in Myanmar’s northern Wa State, and his co-worker, a Christian named Jing Ruxia, crossed the China-Myanmar border last March. As a result, officials charged both of them with “organizing illegal border crossing,” even though they have crossed the border many times before with no previous issues.
After spending nearly a year in police custody, Cao was tried on Feb. 9, 2018. According to the verdict, Cao will spend the next seven years behind bars and is expected to pay a 20,000 yuan ($3,000 USD) fine, and Jing received a one-year sentence and a 5,000 yuan (approximately $792.00 USD).
Since Jing has already been held in custody for a year, she has been released.
In 1998, Cao married Jamie Powell, an American citizen. Powell and the couple’s two sons still reside in the United States, where Cao is also a resident.