President George W. Bush said he would urge Chinese President Hu Jintao to improve China’s religious freedom situation.
Bush stated that he would also ask Hu, scheduled to visit the While House on April 20, to address China’s trade practices and respect for intellectual property.
"I will continue to remind him, ours is a complex relationship and that we would hope that he would not fear a free society, just like it doesn't appear that he is fearing a free market," Bush said in a speech to Freedom House, an independent pro-democracy group.
"Nor do I hesitate to talk about the concerns of the (Roman) Catholic Church," the U.S. president added.
In February, two Catholic priests were arrested in Hebei province, an enclave for unregistered Catholic churches. November, last year, Chinese officials arrested Bishop Jia Zhiguo, a prominent underground Catholic leader.
Freedom House placed China in its list of World’s Most Repressive Societies last year. Dec. 2005, a U.N. special investigator maintained that Chinese security officials continue to use torture when interrogating individuals belonging to ethnic minorities, political dissidents, human rights defenders, and members of house-church groups.
Last month, the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom reported that the nation of 4.5 billion maintains a poor human rights record, citing crackdowns on unregistered protestant house churches in Henan Province.
The U.S. president, while visiting China last year, urged the government to allow its citizens to worship freely. In addition to speaking with President Hu, Bush spoke at the state-sanctioned Gangwashi church to set up the "framework" for more discussions with religious freedom.
President Bush expressed wishes to continue to addressing the religious freedom situation in China.
"I'm anxious to talk to him about the evangelicals' concerns inside of China, reminding him that a whole society is one that's just more than open markets," said Bush.