The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is now on a two-week tour in China to promote religious freedom in China. Led by the USCIRF Chairman Michael Cromartic, the delegation will hold meetings in Beijing, Chengdu, Kashgar, Urumqi, Lhasa, and Shanghai from 14th-28th August.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress Vice Chairman Fu Tieshan met with the USCIRF delegation on Wednesday.
Fu, also the chairman of Catholic Patriotic Association of China and acting chairman of Bishops Conference of Catholic of China, briefed the guests on China's religious situation and policy on freedom of religious belief.
The high-profile trip of the USCIRF to China was first agreed by the US and China in the December 2002 US-China bilateral human rights dialogue.
Fu said that China and the US have maintained friendly exchanges in the area of religion, hoping the visit by the US delegation will continue to facilitate bilateral friendly relations.
In March 2005, a new regulation on religions was placed into effect in China. Many Christians and leaders have raised concerns over the threat to the religious freedom of Chinese believers as the government imposes stricter regulations on religious activities in the wake of the rising Falun Gong movement.
The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has highlighted the call for religious freedom in China in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing during her last stop of the six-country tour across Asia in March.
During her meetings with Beijing in July, Rice once again emphasised that the USCIRF trip to China has been a high priority for the Bush Administration.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal commission that advises the President, Secretary of State, and Congress on how to promote religious freedom and related human rights around the world.