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Axios Apr 16
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China's crackdown on Christianity

Catholic nuns at mass.
Catholic nuns and worshippers attend Mass ahead of Easter at Beijing's government-sanctioned South Cathedral. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images.

"The American family [Charlotte, N.C.] of a prominent Chinese Christian pastor is asking for leniency after he was sentenced to prison for missionary work as the atheist ruling Communist Party exerts greater control of believers," AP's Yanan Wang reports from Beijing.

Why it matters: "Analysts say the government increasingly views Christianity’s rise in China as a threat to its rule, and may be using prominent figures such as Cao as an example to intimidate nascent movements."

  • For years, the Rev. John Sanqiang Cao "would cross the river on a narrow bamboo raft from a tree-shrouded bank in southern China into neighboring Myanmar, carrying ... notebooks, pencils and Bibles."
  • On March 5, 2017, "Cao and a teacher were on a raft returning ... when they saw Chinese security agents waiting for them on the shore."
  • The 58-year-old Christian leader "quickly threw his cellphone into the water, protecting the identities of more than 50 Chinese teachers he had recruited."
  • "But Cao himself could not escape. He was sentenced last month to seven years in prison for 'organizing others to illegally cross the border' — a crime more commonly applied to human traffickers."
  • "His American sons ... have not been allowed contact with him."
Axios 11 hours ago
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North Korea says it is stopping nuclear and missile testing

Kim Jong-un sits at a desk.
Kim Jong-un. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced the country will stop conducting nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles starting April 21, and shut down a nuclear test site in the north side of the country, through a broadcast on the state news agency KCNA reports, and President Trump announced in a tweet, later adding quotes from the message.

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State Department report cuts references to Israeli "occupation"

A Palestinian protester at the Gaza-Israel border
A Palestinian demonstrator at a protest today near the Gaza-Israel border. Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The State Department dropped almost all uses of the term "occupation" from its latest annual report on the human rights situation in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Between the lines: This is a significant change, because the public language used by the State Department usually communicates a policy. The U.N., the E.U., Russia, China and almost all the countries in the world see the Israeli control of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights since 1967 as "military occupation." But Israel doesn't, and now the U.S. might not see it that way either.