Relaymedia

Chinese Christians to Meet with Bush

Chinese Christians opposed to Beijing’s control on religion say they will meet with U.S. president, George W. Bush at the White House to discuss the religious freedom situation in China this week.
( [email protected] ) May 10, 2006 11:41 AM EDT

Chinese Christians opposed to Beijing’s control on religion say they will meet with U.S. president, George W. Bush at the White House to discuss the religious freedom situation in China this week.

Three Chinese Christians -- Yu Jie, Li Baiguang, and Wang Yi -- are schedule to meet Bush for 30 minutes on Thursday to discuss Christianity and its status in China, according to a recent Reuters report. Yu Jie, a writer and evangelical Christian from Beijing, was not available for comments.

However, during a telephone interview shortly before speaking at a human rights panel last week, Yu told Gospel Herald that as "a Chinese intellectual, author and Christian … I come to the United States to tell our American counterparts the real things happened in China."

Bush -- a born-again Christian himself -- has often raised questions on religious freedom in China, where believers are only allowed to worship in state-sanctioned churches that are closely-monitored by religious affair officials whom report directly to Beijing.

This reflects allegations of various Christian monitor groups, who maintain that sermons to be delivered by preachers of government-approved churches are often edited by the ministry of religious affairs beforehand.

Amongst those who will be received by Bush on Thursday is Bob Fu, president of the Texas-based China Aid Association, whose organization has often campaigned for human rights.

"This meeting sends a strong signal to China that President Bush is very determined on this issue," Fu said, as quoted by Reuters.

"It shows the White House's increasing efforts and frustration over lack of progress in human rights in China, especially in religious freedom."

China has often maintained that religious freedom is improving in China, and has often cited the number of Bibles printed domestically at the Amity Printing Press, the only printing organization approved by the Chinese government to print Bibles.

Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, have often pointed out that sales of domestically-printed religious material are often limited to bookstores run by government-sanctioned churches. Mass purchases of Bibles from such stores are restricted.

Yu, who is a member of a Protestant church that refused to register with the government, said to Gospel Herald that house church congregants often lack access to such Bibles and would have to print religious materials secretly.

U.S. president Bush raised up religious freedom during his visit to Beijing, in November, and during China President Hu Jintao’s visit to the White House in April

The White House meeting scheduled for Thursday comes just as Beijing faces a dispute with the Vatican over the power to appoint Chinese Catholics, and Rome’s subsequent accusations that China violated human by coercing Catholic leaders to bless the consecrations of two Bishops without papal blessing.