The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) held a press conference with congressional members on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 9 with the purpose of releasing their findings on China.
In the Policy Focus on China, based on the Commission's two-week high-profile trip on Aug. 14-28 to Beijing, Chengdu, Kashgar, Urumqi, Lhasa, and Shanghai, they have compiled their findings and recommendations in time for the President's visit to China on Nov. 19.
"Officials should provide a consistent, candid, and coordinated message about human rights, including religious freedom, in their interactions with Chinese officials," USCIRF's Chair Cromartie said on Nov. 9, after he addressed the Commission's concerns.
Some concerns include "unregistered" Christians and Catholics who are continually being arrested for their participation in "unregistered" religious activities.
Cromartie said, "There is a fundamental misapprehension on the part of Chinese officials about what freedom of religion or belief means," adding that the growth of "state-sanctioned and state-controlled religious expression" does not mean that they have "freedom of religion."
The Policy Focus on China was released to strengthen U.S. human rights diplomacy with China and to provide policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.
During the trip, the Commission urged senior Chinese officials at national, provincial and local levels, which included Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, to be responsible for religious affairs and to uphold human rights and religious freedom.
For more resources, they consulted with Chinese academics and lawyers, UN officials, and representatives of the government-sanctioned religious organizations—Buddhism, Catholicism, Taoism, Islamism, and Protestantism.
Chairman of the Catholic Patriotic Association Fu Tieshan met with the delegation on Aug. 17, according to Xinhua News Agency, and said that China and the U.S. have maintained friendly exchanges in the area of religion, and hopes that the delegation would continue to facilitate bilateral relations, since the trip was a result of an agreement between the two nations in December 2002.
The Commission was joined by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Tom Lantos (D-CA), and Christopher Smith (R-NJ) at the press conference.
"USCIRF was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
The Policy Focus on China can be read at http://www.uscirf.gov/countries/region/east_asia/china/ChinaPolicyBrief.pdf