U.S. House Speaker Vows to Support Religious Freedom in China

— Radio Free Asia 2011-04-07

The U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Congressman John Boehner, met with religious leader from Hong Kong on Wednesday.  The U.S. Speaker of the House is ranked third in the U.S. system of political figures.  After the meeting, he said that the United States would offer unequivocal support to the effort of promoting Chinese freedom of religion and belief.
Speaker Boehner met with Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong, and released a written statement after the meeting.  Agence France-Presse reported that Boehner said in the statement that “I told him he has my unequivocal support for his work on behalf of the Church in support of religious liberty for all people.”

Boehner further said in his statement that “as it was in Poland under Pope John Paul II during the peak of the Cold War, the Church today is a beacon of hope for positive change and freedom in China.”  He stressed that “Religious liberty is a fundamental human right, and when government encroaches upon the rights of its people, the United States cannot and must not be silent.”
Cardinal Joseph Zen was the archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong who retired in 2009.  Bishop Zen has been an outspoken critic of the Communist Party of China, in regarding its religious and other social policies.

Mark, a staff member of China Aid Association, a Christian concern group, said that in the past few years the room for religious groups in China has been diminishing continuously, while the suppression from the government authority has been growing.
“Last month, we just released a 2010 report about the Chinese government’s suppression against Christianity.  Over the past five years, the suppression has been increasing.  Last year there were two major events.  One was the forceful ordination of bishop in China, which angered the Vatican, thus ending 4 years of good relationship.  The other was that more than two hundred Chinese who were going to attend the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation in Cape Town, South Africa, were blocked by the Chinese government.”

The relationship between the Vatican and the Chinese government has nose-dived since last year when the Chinese government named its own Catholic bishop.  The government has increasingly suppressed the Catholics, which have been underground and are not recognized by the Communist authority.  As a matter of fact, other religious groups that are not controlled by the Chinese government also have been in very difficult situations in China in the past few years.  Mark analyses that this difficulty is related to the Chinese politics turning to the left as a whole.
“First, Hu Jintao’s government is very conservative in their ideology.  Some of its methods and styles are similar to the Mao Era in the past.  Of course, it was not that severe, which is normal.  Second, the influence on society and culture when religious issues are expanded.  For the government, religious groups are social groups that are independent of the government, which it will not tolerate.

The sixty-one-year-old John Boehner is a Republican Congressman from Ohio.  In November 2010, when the Republicans won mid-term elections in the United States to regain control of the House, Boehner was elected to be the Speaker.  Boehner shed tears in many interviews, and was criticized by some people as too emotional.  The well-known Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng said that this time Boehner’s expression regarding Chinese religious freedom is not being emotional.
“The Republican Congressional members have always been more concerned about the freedom of religion and belief.  This concern has a lot to do with their constituents.  Usually, the Republican voters are more devout religious believers.  So, I think that Boehner’s statement is a very important signal.  Many American politicians have also realized that Chinese human rights are indeed important.  Indeed, it is not only about human rights in China, but also in the other areas of the world.””

Wei Jingsheng’s analysis is that the Republican Party in the USA will present their suggestions and amendments to President Obama regarding many fields, both domestic and international.  Of which, the issues regarding Chinese human rights will become one of the most important links of the international issues.
The above is a report by Radio Free Asia’s reporter Shi Shan.
Copyright (c) 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.

(Translated by: the Wei Jingsheng Foundation.  Original link: http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/zongjiao-04072011154806.html

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