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Mixed Reaction with Bush's Meeting with Chinese Christians

Average Christians in Mainland China expressed mixed reaction with Bush’s planned meeting with Chinese leaders representing the 'underground' church, in several internet discussion boards and blogs,
( [email protected] ) May 11, 2006 01:26 AM EDT

Average Christians in Mainland China expressed mixed reaction with Bush’s planned meeting with Chinese leaders representing the "underground" church, in several internet discussion boards and blogs, Wednesday.

The meeting of three Christian rights-activists -- Yu Jie, Li Baiguang, and Wang Yi -- with the U.S. president at the White House on Thursday, has received both welcome and cold responses from several domestic-Chinese forums and blogs.

"We have God’s care, and we don’t need politicians to interfere with church matters," said a discussion forum webmaster, who demanded that Yu Jie not to see Bush.

Christians in China are split between the government-sanctioned churches and 'underground’ house churches, which refuses to register with the government. The government’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Movement (TSPM) churches claim a membership of 10 million amongst China’s 40-70 million Christians.

Those whom worship outside the sphere of government-approved churches are allegedly subjected to harassment, arrests, heavy fines, beatings and imprisonment.

"God allowing us to be persecuted is God’s training," a board member responded, adding that to stop persecution is to interfere with "God’s plans."

A fellow participant retorted, "Do you also want your children and grandchildren to have no knowledge of God, or be persecuted to death?"

Under current religious regulations, congregations of government-monitored protestant churches are not allowed to propagate to children below the age of 12.

Sites that have hosted dialogue -- concerning the upcoming White House visit -- reportedly experienced unexplained technical difficulties since discussions began sometime after Tuesday evening.

The Chinese government has often in the past been accused by various rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, of blocking internet-traffic to political and religious websites.

Information on several website that raised topics about Bush’s planned meeting was inaccessible, Wednesday afternoon, though it could not be determined whether government-censors were involved.

China has often been accused by various human rights and evangelical persecution monitor groups of having one of the worst records on human rights and religious freedom.

Last week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom included China in its list of "countries of particular concern" amongst other Communist-regimes including North Korea and Vietnam.

In March, Open Doors, the oldest-Christian persecution watchdog, ranked China tenth in its 2006 Watch List of worst Christian persecutors.

Beijing is now under much pressure to improve its stance on human rights, especially with media scrutiny that will follow in the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympics to be held in the city of about 15 million.

A more sympathetic blogger wrote that "brothers and sisters (in Christ) should restrain from condemnation," and to show the persecutors of Christians in China "patience and tolerance."