Sinologist Brent Fulton offers some analysis of the ongoing standoff between the Chinese authorities and a large, defiant unregistered church in Bejing:
“the public declaration of Shouwang’s intentions and the subsequent media attention that was drawn to the actual outdoor event triggered a very predictable official response. Furthermore, by demanding not only that they be allowed to meet, but also that the government guarantee in writing their ability to do so, the Shouwang leadership pushed the government beyond what its current policies could accommodate. Honoring Showuang’s request would have entailed a broad policy change, with ramifications not only for Shouwang but for thousands of unregistered religious groups across the country. The officials with whom Shouwang was dealing had no authority to make such a decision.
“Such is the nature of religious policy and its implementation in China: accept the ambiguity of functioning within a gray area, and one is free to operate within certain limits; demand that the government define what is and what is not allowed, and the scope of one’s freedoms narrows significantly.” [Link]