China Aid Association
(Midland, Texas (CAA)-May 29, 2006) On May 11, 2006 for the first time, a sitting US President met a group of Chinese House Church intellectuals in the White House. Mr. Bush, along with Vice-President Dick Cheney, Mr. Bush’s National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Mr. Josh Bolton, the White House Chief of Staff and the President’s senior Advisor Mr. Michael Gerson as well as the White House press secretary Tony Snow were informed about the true situation in China on the latest development of religious freedom in China. The three individuals include Mr. Yu Jie who is the best-seller author and Elder of Beijing Ark House Church, Mr. Wang Yi who is a religious freedom defender and professor of law at Chengdu University, Sichuan province and Dr. Li Baiguang who is one of the “Person of the Year” in Asia in 2005 for his brave civil education work for the rule of law among the farmers and religious minority groups.
The following is the excerpts written by the three Chinese intellectuals after their meeting with the President:
Brief notes of the talk between Mr. Yu Jie, Dr. Li Baiguang, Professor Wang Yi and President Bush in the White House from on May 11, 2006
President Bush: Welcome! (He introduces his colleagues, including the vice president, to three Chinese guests.)
This is my private reception room. I usually meet my friends here. I met the Dalai Lama twice here. You are brave men, my friend. I am honored to meet you here. I am willing to listen to you, your information is very important to me.
Yu Jie: First, we are very grateful to the president for these arrangements.
We have just completed a Bible course held in Midland, your hometown. We have found many pious Christians there, who are painstakingly helping the Christians of China to strive for religious freedom.
President Bush: That’s wonderful, though Midland is actually not my hometown, I grew up there, and my faith and values were also formed there, I believed in Jesus Christ, and believed in freedom in Midland, and I got rid of the bad habit of drinking after becoming a Christian.
Yu Jie: Amen. The English name ‘midland’ means “Central Plains”, which is very close to the meaning of “Zhong Guo,” what the Chinese call their own country. I believe this is not a coincidence; God has a wonderful arrangement for Midland to pass the Gospel from this little town to the giant China.
In the past decade, China has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of Christians. There are now tens of millions of Christians in China. Almost none still believe in communism right now in China. Many opposition writers, human rights lawyers, journalists, painters, and musicians of the younger generation are baptized one after another, including the three people sitting here.
President Bush: How old are you? Did you become a Christian through some transitional experience?
Yu Jie: I am 33 years old
President Bush: Oh, you are really young, maybe I am too old.
Yu Jie: I was only 16 years old when the Tiananmen Square event occurred in 1989. Yet it changed my life. Henceforth, I pledge to be an intellectual who defends freedom and human rights. The event also made me start to think about the sinfulness and limitations of humans, and the deeper reason for the massacre. I realized that what China was short of most is love, and both love and justice comes from God.
Recently some Christians who fight for freedom and human rights have appeared in China. We are essentially different from the democratic fighters in the past because we have guidance from God. We want to bring changes to China through the love and justice of God, and through non-violent means. God will raise great spiritual men like Martin Luther King, and Archbishop Tutu, who changed their countries by their faith.
Two years ago, I was arrested because of launching a report on the issue of Chinese Human Rights. A plain clothed policeman threatened to silence me by way of a traffic accident. I am still praying for the policemen because they do not know what they are doing. I have a lot to learn from Martin Luther King at this point.
President Bush: Yes, Martin Luther King has changed the United States.
Yu Jie: The Chinese People are coming more and more to the realization of the indispensability of freedom. Mr. President; do you remember the brave young man who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989? Many Christians will stand up to defend their faith and freedom bravely like him. The American government should support them, for it is confirmed to God’s justice, and also in agreement with the national security of the United States. The United States should not make the same mistake as were made at the Yalta meeting.
President Bush: Are you married? Do you have kids?
Yu Jie: I have been married 5 years, and we still do not have any children.
President Bush: Oh, there is someone who dares to be your wife; I think she needs more courage than you do.
Yu Jie: Yes, I agree with you. I think there is one common ground between us. My wife and Wang Yi’s wife became Christians earlier than we did, and they are our teachers on the road of faith, I have read the biography of Mr. Bush, which mentions that the First Lady also provided much help in the spirit to Mr. Bush, and we may say she is the teacher of the president, can’t we?
President Bush: I agree with you. I am just about to talk about my wife. She has the final say at home. Does your wife have a job?
Yu Jie: My wife works in an American company. She used to work for the country and a private company, but both companies had to fire her under pressure from the secret police. She has been in an American company for a year; there seems to be no problem until now – maybe because it is an American company. My wife earns more than me.
President Bush: It should be like that. You have arranged your household wisely. This makes me think about the trade controversies between China and America. The trade between our two countries becomes more and more important to both of us. Some suggest that America should block China, and cease the trade with China. I do not agree with them. I hold the viewpoint of free economy. I think the expanding trade can bring some unimaginable changes to China. The opening economic system and freedom regime are related. The case of you and your wife is a very good example: the American company enters into China, thus your wife works in it to provide financial support for your family, and it is good, isn’t it? Now of course, we will not give up our concerns to human rights because of trade.
Yu Jie: Yes, I do not agree to isolate China either. But human rights can not be sacrificed like the leader of France and Germany, who openly proclaim the
Tiananmen Square event is history, let’s make money together.” They received little respect in China.
President Bush: This will not happen to the United States. And there has been some change in Germany recently, Prime Minister Angela Merkel will visits Beijing soon, I just talked with her on the telephone, and suggested her to emphasize the problems of human rights to the Chinese government during her visit.
Yu Jie: President Regan becomes one of the greatest presidents in American history because of burying communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Perhaps it is the historical mission of President Bush to help China to make the same change.
President’s Bush (snapping his fingers): Eh, I would become the greatest president of the United States if I can lower oil prices, I want to ask a question – How can we help you?
Yu Jie: I have three suggestions: First: please firmly and persistently express your concerns regarding the situation of religious freedom in China at any occasion with the Chinese leaders.
President Bush: Yes, we have been doing that. I shared my faith as well as my concept of freedom with Mr. Jiang Zemin the first time I met him, hoping to reduce his anxiety. And I also talked this with Mr. Hu Jintao later. This is not only my personal faith, but also the faith of our nation.
Yu Jie: Yes, that is good. My second suggestion is: to have the American embassy in China regularly invite some Christians from the family church, opposition writers, human rights lawyers, and reporters, etc, to the embassy, to show their support, just like the American embassy in Vietnam does. The United States embassy in China seems too cautious.
President Bush: This is a very good suggestion. Our ambassador in China is my college classmate, and he is also a close friend of mine, he is a pious Christian and a clever person who can see through the affairs clearly. I will pass on your suggestion to him quickly.
Yu Jie: My third suggestion is: I hope that the United States government and parliament have more supervision and control over the American companies in China. For example, the internet company YAHOO provided some private data to the China police, which caused the arrests of four Chinese writers, including my friend, Shi Tao. They were mistreated in prison. The moral foundation of the United States has been violated by the actions of YAHOO, and the event also destroyed the image of the United States in the hearts of Chinese people.
President Bush: I understand what is in your heart. But there is one problem, those companies are private companies, and they have their own interest. But I noticed that these cases are extensively reported recently by the media, and many shareholders are also shocked. I believe those companies will stop their wrong doing under the pressure from the shareholders and media.
Notes by Dr. Li Baiguang:
May 10, 2006 three delegates accompanied by Mr. Fu and Mrs. Deborah Fikes, the Director of the Institute of Chinese Law and Religion, left for Washington. We arrived at the White House in the rain the next morning. At 10:30, we were ushered into the guest hall, and a smiling President Bush greeted us at the entrance: “Welcome to the White House, very happy to meet you.”
I found the vice president was also there after we took our seats. The president & vice-president sat in chairs between the two sofas where we were seated.
The meeting started with President Bush talking with Mr. Yu Jie first and then me. President Bush asked about our ages, families and our faith.
President Bush: “Did your family know you were coming to the United States?”
Li Baiguang: “They did not know, only my two nephews who are living with me in Beijing.”
President Bush: “Would your family worry about you if they knew what you are doing?”
Li: “Of course, but I never tell them about my job.”
President Bush: “Are you a lawyer?”
Li: “No, I am only a legal worker.”
President Bush: asked if I had ever lost my freedom, and the time when I was imprisoned. He asked, “Did they torture you in the prison?”
Li: “No! The police did not beat me; I only underwent the experience of taking a cold shower in winter for a month. The water was so cold that it pierced into my bones. But it was a good exercise.”
President Bush: asked me whether the people in China would know that he was meeting with us.
Li: “No, they won’t. The Chinese media will not report this event.”
President Bush: “Do they have other information mediums available to them so that they can know of our meeting – for example, the internet?”
We answered that we will do that after the meeting.
Then, President Bush talked about his growing up in Midland, where his view of the world and life was formed. Being influenced by his wife, Laura, President Bush became a Christian and gave up his bad habit of indulging in alcohol.
President Bush also told us that in this office, he had met with the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama twice. The president said, “Though we have different faiths, we both respect religious freedom.”
President Bush continued saying that he had shared his faith with the former president of China, Mr. Jiang, and the present president, Mr. Hu, and talked about the importance of the religious freedom to the development of a healthy and harmonious society.
President Bush went to the government sponsored church during his visit in China. He will express his concerns about religious freedom in China if he meets Chinese leaders in the future.
Then it was my turn to speak to President Bush.
Li: Honorable President Bush:
First I want to express my gratitude to you for taking your valuable time to meet with us, and to thank the American people and government for their care and support to the Chinese people in our mission of democracy and freedom.
The President’s meeting with us in the White House will surely encourage more Chinese citizens, especially those who work in the legal area, to use the law as their weapon. It will encourage them to learn from and follow the example of American civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King. And to realize the human rights and freedom stipulated in the Chinese Constitution in the social life of Chinese people, and to unremittingly facilitate the democratization and legalization process of China.
As a milestone of this effort, I will apply for Mr. Yang Zili, an opposition writer who is now in prison, the right of being baptized, worshiping God, and reading the Bible in prison. The process will strictly follow the present Chinese law. The Chinese Christians have ceased to enjoy this right in prison since 1949, when the PRC was founded. In order to recover this right, we will resort to a series of lawsuits, until the gospel can be sent into the prison.
Let me conclude by quoting an American friend, “No one can be great enough to change history, but everyone can change it slightly by his efforts, and all our efforts write our history.”
All the best wishes to you President Bush and your family!
President Bush appreciated very much my opinion that we should draw from the experiences of Dr. Martin Luther King’s spiritual legacy. And he was excited to know that I am translating the book “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror,” written by Nathan Sharansky, a former Soviet Union writer who held different political views than the government, and even said “You are the Sharanskys of China.”
President Bush likes this book very much, and has recommended it to many friends. He interviewed the author in the White House, discussing with him global democratization tactics.
At the end of the meeting, President Bush said, “Let me take you to the balcony, you can enjoy the most beautiful rose garden in the White House, and we can use the garden as the background to take a picture together.”
We expressed our gratitude for his kindness.
Then President Bush suggested that we have a closing prayer together. President Bush held my right hand, the vice president held my left hand, and hand in hand brothers from China and America prayed to God. President Bush led the prayer, we prayed for China, and for those who are bravely seeking freedom in China.
President Bush accepted our gifts after we came back from the balcony the books and journals written by himself and Mr. Yu Jie; and the English edition of the documentary “The Cross: Jesus in China,” from Mr. Wang Yi. My gift is a plan for a project to introduce the United States to Chinese people, by exploring such areas as politics, administration, education, religious belief etc. Then one by one, President Bush took pictures with each of us, holding whose gifts in his hand.
The meeting was finished, before we left President Bush said to us, “Do not hurry; I also have some gifts for you.” Then he walked into a room and took out his gifts, three tie tack bars with his signature on them. He also prepared gifts for Yu Jie and Wang Yi’s wives, and then said to me, “You only get one present because you are still single.” I answered him by a smiling.
It was the time to say good bye, I said to President Bush in English, “God bless you and your family, God bless America!” President Bush was so happy that he
embraced me. The photographer recorded this precious moment. This picture has been used many times by the media.
Leaving the office, we realized that the meeting was lengthened from half an hour to one hour. Later we learned that the place President Bush met with us is called the Yellow Oval Office.
Aside from Vice President, Dick Cheney; the White House National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley; the White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow; the president’s Chief Speechwriter and senior Advisor, Michael Gerson; and White House Chief of Staff, Josh Bolton also attended the meeting. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was absent because of an emergency, but her name was on the list published by the White House one hour before the meeting.
We held some interviews with the media after walking out of the West Wing in the White House. I was very tired and had a nap after lunch. I woke up at 5 PM in the hotel. When I took off my necktie, suddenly, I remembered that 8 years before I had worn this same shirt when I was arrested and put in prison. I have worn this same white shirt spring and autumn every year for the past 8 years, while the other shirts have all worn out.
I brought two shirts to the United States this time, one is purple one is white. I wore this white shirt to the White House because the other one was not suitable for the occasion. This white shirt witnessed both my suffering in prison and the honor of being a guest of the American President in the White House.
I decided to preserve this white shirt to commemorate these historical events in my life. In the past 8 years it has witnessed the wonderful guidance by God of His servant.
My stand on the issue of Chinese House Church Registration
— And the Fellowship with President Bush
By Wang Yi
May 11, 2006, President Bush and his staff met with three Chinese Christian intellectuals, Li Baiguang, Yu Jie, and me in the White House.
A pastor from Midland, Texas, the hometown of President Bush, told me that Christians from more than 200 churches in the area of Midland have prayed for 6 years for this meeting. I know many churches in China have also been praying for such a meeting. I told this to President Bush during our talk in the White House and said, “Two hundred years ago, the first Protestant missionary to China had to wait 6 years before the first Chinese was converted. And today Chinese Christians have also waited 6 years for such an occasion to communicate with the president the issue of religious freedom in China.”
President Bush tried to correct me that he had been to a (governmental) church in Beijing last year during his visit in China. I added that what I referred to are the Christians of Chinese house churches. Then we started talking about the issue of house church registration.
President Bush imagined the scene of numerous Christians in China emerging from underground, swarming for lawful registrations. “It must be a very hard and embarrassing situation for the government. What measures shall the government take?” He asked if I agree with the picture he described.
I answered that this picture is also my dream. The Gospel is being spread in every corner of the country; Christians can demonstrate their faith publicly without feeling ashamed of the gospel. I said today’s meeting may lead to this picture.
Then I added that the process of Chinese house church’s registration should be a process of defending their rights rather than a process of compromising. The action of registration will urge the government to reform its registration rules, that is, cease to use registration as a method of belief censure, which is the condition for Chinese house church’s acceptance to the government’s administration. I think it is possible for the Chinese house church to change their strategy by using registration as a means to strive for their rights of religious freedom.
President Bush agreed with me and said that the Chinese house church should be more open when dealing with certain affairs to demonstrate their faith publicly. We all believe that to strive for religious freedom in China, we should follow Dr. Martin Luther King’s example of nonviolence, gentleness, but firmness.
President Bush shook hands with us before we left his office. He said our images will appear in his mind when he discusses the issue of religious freedom in China with Chinese leaders in the future. The issue will no longer be abstract after this meeting. His words impressed me and reminded me that although there are millions of Christians in China, still more people feel alienated from Christianity. The house church is still an abstract concept to them. If we reach out our hands to them, God will surely fill our hands.
The issue of church registration is actually the issue of the relationship between the church and the government, the Gospel and the world, and also an issue of the legalization of the church on the basis of religious freedom.
After our meeting with President Bush, I published the above talk to the media. As a Christian and a law scholar, I’d also like to express my personal opinion concerning the issue of church registration in China, which can be summarized into 5 principles.
1. The Social Organization Principle:
The government should not apply any extra or special management over religious affairs. It should practice equal administrative power over religious organizations as any other social organizations, because the government should not discriminate against an individual or a social organization because of his or its religious beliefs according to the constitution. Religious belief is not to be a reason for discrimination. Therefore, being a social organization in nature, the house churches are to register in the civil administration department like other social organizations, rather than in the religion bureau. More over, the churches are to be registered as religious organizations, instead of merely as a place for religious activities. (If other social organizations can register, a church should have the same right to register. If a place for religious activities is required to register, then places for other activities should also be required to register.)
2. The Voluntary Principle: Registration is to be a right rather than a duty. Registration in the government can contribute to the churches becoming mature in administration, organization, and tax payment. But for the numerous Christian fellowship groups who are not willing to register, their choices are to be respected. For if a tea party in the Political Bureau is not required to register, gatherings of several Christians at home should not be compelled to register.
3. The Procedure Principle: The formation of a religious organization is in the scope of religious freedom, and should not be controlled by the government.
Religious organizations should register only in the sense of a procedure as records in the system, rather than a censorship of its religious belief.
4. The Independence Principle: The church should have the right to register in its own name, and decide its relationships with other churches and religious organizations. The government should not interfere with the church by imposing any names or relationships with other churches, or organizations religious or nonreligious.
5. The Universal Principle: Though numerous denominations with different doctrines and beliefs exist, it is not the right of government to judge and evaluate their doctrines. The government should treat every church equally. The house churches have the right to refuse registration in order not to cause others to stumble, or even aggravate the persecution of other churches, just as Jesus Christ instructed, “To wail with wailers.”
I gave President Bush a copy of the English version of the film “Cross – Jesus in China” as a gift at the end of the meeting; I told him that the film has contributed to many Chinese intellectuals’ conversions, including myself.
I told him that this film was a prelude of Chinese house churches emerging above ground, and this meeting is the beginning of the drama. The real story will not begin until the movement comes when the Chinese house churches, striving for their right of religious freedom, register with the government.
I want to share with all the Christians in China and those who are concerned about religious freedom in China my personal opinion concerning the issue of Chinese house church registration.
Short biography of the three Chinese intellectuals:
Mr. Yu is the author of several works in Chinese, including Fire and Ice, a collection of essays which first launched him into the spotlight in 1998, sold over one million copies by 2000, and garnered high acclaim from Chinese intellectuals. Since, he has earned international renown as a bold voice openly criticizing the Chinese government and fearlessly raising controversial issues. In 2002, he was awarded the Chan Foundation of Journalism and Culture Award. In 2003, he visited the U.S. at the invitation of the State Department to participate in an academic exchange program. In 2004, he visited France to attend a cultural exchange at the invitation of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently, Mr. Yu’s work includes international speaking engagements, activism, and his responsibilities as a founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, in addition to his writing endeavors. His books have been banned from publication in China and his most recent work, A Son of Tiananmen Square, was published in Hong Kong in 2005.
“From this moment on, the one who lives in fear will not be me—it will be those fellows who hide in the dark corners. From this moment on, I will live out in the sunlight. I will live a fuller and happier life.”
Wang Yi, Esq.
Professor of Law
The censorship of pro-democracy writer Wang Yi by the Chinese government has been widely publicized and criticized since Mr. Yi’s web log was closed down in the Fall of 2005, just days after being nominated for two awards sponsored by the German radio station, Deutsche Welle, and Reporters Without Borders. In 2003, he was banned by the Chinese government from teaching for 18 months, and then reinstated in March of 2005 because, he posits, the Chinese government “€¦can control you better if you remain in the system.” Mr. Yi constantly battles the internet filters the government uses to block access to his web log on Chinese sites and struggles to find international internet spaces that will allow his log to exist. First created to display a full collection of his work, his web log gradually developed into a “microphone” in which he voices his opinions on current events through critical, eloquent essays and commentaries. Mr. Yi’s essays are banned from publication in China. He is a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center and lends his legal expertise to the defense of Chinese Christians experiencing persecution, including the case of Pastor Cai.
“Of course it matters that the microphone has been taken away. But vocal chords are part of one’s body. And the right to speak is an inalienable one; one which is laid down in black and white in China’s constitution.”
Dr. Li Baiguang, Esq.
Beijing Qimin Research Center
Dr. Li represented the first farmer to bring an administrative suit against China’s State Council and has since brought legal action against the government oh behalf of over 100,000 peasants. A former university professor, freelance writer, legal professional, peasants’ right advocate and legal scholar, he has been imprisoned three times and intimidated on numerous occasions. The most recent instance of wrongful imprisonment occurred in late 2005 when Dr. Li was arrested and imprisoned for 37 days in Fu’an for providing farmers with legal advice in their battle against illicit land seizures carried out by the government. Mr. Li focuses on legal education and empowerment of the economically disadvantaged to foster reliance on the rule of law and promote democracy. He is also one of the founding members of the Association of Human Rights Attorneys for Chinese Christians and one of Asia Newsweek’s “Persons of the Year” of 2005
 Statement made in an open letter of protest written to the China’s Writers’ Association on October 1, 2000.
 The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 17, 2005.
 Mr. Yi named is second website Microphone 2.
 Ke, Hua. “China Closes Dissident Blog Nominated for Award.” Radio Free Asia. October 31, 2005.
Issued exclusively by China Aid Association on May 29, 2006 ©Copyright Reserved 2006
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