China's crackdown on house churches not registered with the official state church is growing and now represents the "greatest challenge" faced by Christians in the region, according to reports.
Some unregistered churches are resisting the pressure to comply with government regulations, in spite of the risks of retribution.
China Aid, which works to support persecuted Christians in China, is reporting that one house church, Proclaiming Christ, in central Henan province has rejected a government order to cease its religious activities and remove its signs and worshippers intend to continue to defy the authorities.
Fang Guojian, a church attendee, told China Aid: "We are still gathering. We wrote a petition. After they saw it, they were afraid. In the letter, we wrote that we would go to Beijing; go to Beijing and appeal. Now, they are afraid, and they do not dare to provoke us."
Once churches are registed with the official church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, they become subject to government supervision. All services and other activities then have to be approved by the state.
China is number 33 on the Open Doors persecution watch list, which ranks countries where it is most difficult to practice the Chistian faith.
Open Doors says: "While the campaign of breaking down crosses in the province Zhejiang seems to have come to an end, church meetings continue to be disrupted and stopped. Authorities see the meetings as threats when foreigners, media or large groups of people are involved, one example being in the province Guangdong.
"The curbing of reporting and social media after explosions in Tianjin in August 2015 also serve to limit Christian freedoms. The government's goal of maintaining power and social harmony includes the control of all religions, including the quickly growing Christian minority."