A leading seminary in Hong Kong has cancelled the visit of Chinese house church Christians who have met with President George W. Bush this time.
The Hong Kong-based China Graduate School of Theology (CGST) has originally invited Yu Jie, Li Boguang and Zhang Qianjin- another scholar introduced by Yu- to participant in a study program in Hong Kong on June 11-24. As Yu and Li are both involved in the high-profile meeting with Bush on religious freedom at the White House Thursday, CGST has suddenly decided to temporarily cancel the scheduled visit, according to an email received by Yu and released on the Chinese website of the Texas-based Chinese persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA).
The email is written in Chinese, which stated, "Regarding certain international issue that has raised widespread concern recently, we believe that it is not an appropriate time to invite you to come to Hong Kong at this moment." CGST apologizes sincerely and wishes to "be understood." At the end of the letter, CGST added that it would invite them again for academic exchange if there is any opportunity.
The letter is undersigned by the Acting Director of Chinese Culture Research Center of CGST Dr. Kevin Xi Yi Yao. Li, a prominent writer-peasants’ right advocate and legal professional, who has met with Bush this time and was invited by CGST, has also received a copy of the letter through email.
On the Chinese website of CAA, Yu described the letter as "unacceptable." He admitted that Hong Kong may have faced political pressure because of Li and himself visiting Bush this time. However, the theological seminary could have honestly explained to them this sensitive concern and they would take initiative to cancel the meeting, Yu suggested.
"This letter is totally ridiculous, it seems to accuse our actions and thus disqualify us to attend the theological program in Hong Kong… and what it means by ‘inappropriate’? Is there any problem for a citizen to meet Bush according to the law in Hong Kong and Mainland China?" complained Yu in the CAA website.
Yu expressed deep disappointment with the response of the theological seminary in Hong Kong. He therefore requested for compensation from the seminary, including the fee both Li and Yu have spent on applying visa to Hong Kong.
Gospel Herald Hong Kong branch has tried to contact CGST for their explanation on the decision, but CGST is not able to give any reply yet.
Established in 1973 in Hong Kong, CGST is originally founded by four Chinese students from the Texas-based Westminster Theological Seminary. CGST aims to be an inter-denominational, evangelical and localized seminary that can train students to serve the Church in China and to spread the Gospel to all countries.
Yao, who is the one signed the email about cancellation of the visit by Yu and Li, is the Acting Director of Chinese Culture Research Center of CGST. The Center has viewed the handover of Hong Kong to China as a new opportunity to win people to Christ. Therefore, it has been leading a lot of academic research and exchange to help Chinese Christians go back to the roots, to look at China’s culture and history, and understand how it will contribute to the future of China's evangelistic ministries.
Yao has his research interests focused on China's evangelistic theologians and churches in the 20th century. He also helps in receiving scholars from Mainland China and assisting CGST to develop stronger and further academic relation with other universities in the Mainland.