In May 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a policy of Sinicization during a central United Front Work Department meeting. Xi Jiping had been seen as a leader who was open minded about religion so long as the faithful are "harmonious". However, Xi displays a certain tolerance towards homegrown faiths like Confuciusism, Buddhism and Daoism as distinguished from a chary attitude toward foreign influences like Christianity and Islam.
Following that lead, provincial Chinese officials forced churches in Songmun, Xinhe, Muyu and Dasi as well as the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Xioshan to take down crosses from their churches lest the buildings be demolished. In Hangzhou, only the Catholic Cathedral and two Protestant churches will be spared that fateful choice. A Protestant catechist estimates that at least 1,100 Christian churches have been denuded of their crosses, although the figure might be much higher.
Alas, this is not the first time in recent memory that the Chinese government have persecuted Christian churches. In 2014, there was a rash of cross removals and threats of demolishing Christian churches.
What made international headlines was how the Christian faithful encircled the Sanjiang Church near Wenzhou as human shields. China trying to save the Jerusalem of the East. Initially, officials backed away from their plan and negotiated a compromise withe the Sanjiang pinyin (Chinese Christ followers). Unfortunately, the bright prominent crosses on Sanjiang Church in a central business district proved too much for Communist Party sensibilities and the church was demolished.