China Aid president recognized at unveiling of Bush Institute's Freedom Collection

Midland Reporter-Telegram   Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2012 8:30 pm | Updated: 9:26 pm, Thu Mar 29, 2012. Kathleen Petty | Staff Writer |

Midlander Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid Association, met with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush Wednesday during the unveiling of the online Freedom Collection put together as part of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. Fu is one of those featured in the collection.

The president of ChinaAid Association said he’s hopeful the Freedom Collection debuted this week at the Bush Institute will encourage those fighting for human rights around the world.

Bob Fu, president and founder of Midland-based ChinaAid Association, was recognized Wednesday evening at the unveiling of the online Freedom Collection put together as part of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. Fu said former President George W. Bush reiterated his commitment to fighting for human rights in countries such as China while also thanking Fu and others for their work.

“He told me that he’s committed to speak up for the freedom issues,” Fu said. “He really wants to see a civil society and religious freedom to be built in China. He wants to make a contribution.”

Fu’s story is one of 56 featured in an online interview collection that was recorded and produced by the Bush Institute. Bush says in a video narrated for the collection that he was inspired by the stories he heard while in the Oval Office.

Freedom, he says, has a “great historical momentum” in this day and age, and it’s only because of dissidents, like Fu, that others have been inspired to fight and work for freedom in their countries.

Vaclav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia, the Dalai Lama, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia, are examples of other individuals whose stories are featured.

In the video, Fu describes the time he spent in prison in 1996 after he was arrested for his leadership in an underground Christian church and Bible school.

Fu says he was interrogated for three days and witnessed other prisoners being beaten and tortured with electric batons. Despite threats from prison guards and an order not to speak, Fu talks in the video about how he was able to share the Gospel with other prisoners, including drug dealers he believes were changed by what they heard.

“Well, whenever I got a chance to talk with them, and even my interrogators, I just did not have any hesitation sharing my faith and what it’s about and we’re good citizens,” Fu says in the video. “And there is a famous saying among the Chinese Christian community that there is ‘one more Christian, one less criminal, one more church, one less prison.'”

After his time in prison, Fu and his wife, Heidi, escaped to Hong Kong. They later were admitted as refugees to the United States.

They now run ChinaAid Association, which monitors and reports on religious freedom issues in China and provides support to human rights lawyers and the families of those who’ve been imprisoned.

Fu said having exposure through the Freedom Collection should heighten the awareness of what’s taking place in China and other countries.

“The more people are aware, the more they will know the truth, and then I think they will want to engage,” he said. “I deeply believe that there should be a lot of conscientious American people, especially in the faith community, ready to step up.”

Fu said those fighting for freedom in China will be encouraged when they are aware they have supporters and that dissidents in other countries endure some of the same struggles.

“I hope, of course, the message of freedom and the story of struggle and victory and frustration, the lessons learned from the freedom fighters all over the world — from Cuba to Burma to the ongoing Arab Spring in Syria — could be inspiring to the Chinese people and an encouragement to many, many Chinese freedom fighters,” Fu said.

At the Wednesday evening event, Fu said they heard from Bush, former first lady Laura Bush and, via video, from Sirleaf.

Fu said he was part of a group that met with Bush over coffee to further discuss human rights issues on Thursday.

“He talked to us like family,” Fu said.

Fu said he encouraged the former president to continue speaking out. In China, citizens are more likely to be influenced by a former president because his views are that of an individual and not an entire political administration, he said.

With persecution at an all-time high in China, Fu said now is the time for American leaders to stand up for the persecuted.

“It’s very urgent,” he said. “It not only helps the Chinese people, but also secures the future of America’s next generation.”

Kathleen Petty can be reached at [email protected].
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