Religious freedom in China

As President Bush and his wife attended church in Beijing on Sunday morning before discussing a series of thorny issues with the Chinese leadership, they should note an emerging story from Taiwan involving the Vatican and religious freedom. The South China Morning Post from Hong Kong reports ($link):

Taiwan yesterday described as far—fetched media reports that a top Vatican official will visit the island next week to lay the groundwork to switch diplomatic recognition to the mainland.

"Speculation about Cardinal [Jean—Louis] Tauran's upcoming visit is much too far—fetched," said David Wang Chien—yeh, deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Cardinal Tauran, 68, head of the Vatican Library and a former foreign minister experienced in China affairs, will arrive in Taiwan on Monday for a six—day visit. He will meet Taiwanese President Chen Shui—bian and other senior officials, including Mainland Affairs Council chairman Joseph Wu Jau—shieh.

If the Vatican does, in fact, switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, it would be a major coup for the Communist leadership.  Earlier this year, President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao faced international criticism after tightening control over the media and the Internet.

According to story in the Washington Times in August, many rural Chinese are embracing Christianity in a social revolution that is spreading through town and countryside to the point where Christians already may outnumber members of the Communist Party of China.

In search of religious fulfillment, many Chinese Christians face the threat of religious persecution. According to another story in the Times, it has reached the point that distributing Bibles is earning a three—year prison sentence. 

On November 9th, Cai Zhuohua, 34, a Beijing underground church leader, was recently sentenced to three years in prison for distributing Bibles and other Christian materials.

As he entered church with his wife, the president reportedly wrote in the church's guest book, "May God bless the Christians of China." Hopefully, God's message will reach Mr. Hu's heart. 

Brian Schwarz  11 20 05

As President Bush and his wife attended church in Beijing on Sunday morning before discussing a series of thorny issues with the Chinese leadership, they should note an emerging story from Taiwan involving the Vatican and religious freedom. The South China Morning Post from Hong Kong reports ($link):

Taiwan yesterday described as far—fetched media reports that a top Vatican official will visit the island next week to lay the groundwork to switch diplomatic recognition to the mainland.

"Speculation about Cardinal [Jean—Louis] Tauran's upcoming visit is much too far—fetched," said David Wang Chien—yeh, deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Cardinal Tauran, 68, head of the Vatican Library and a former foreign minister experienced in China affairs, will arrive in Taiwan on Monday for a six—day visit. He will meet Taiwanese President Chen Shui—bian and other senior officials, including Mainland Affairs Council chairman Joseph Wu Jau—shieh.

If the Vatican does, in fact, switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, it would be a major coup for the Communist leadership.  Earlier this year, President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao faced international criticism after tightening control over the media and the Internet.

According to story in the Washington Times in August, many rural Chinese are embracing Christianity in a social revolution that is spreading through town and countryside to the point where Christians already may outnumber members of the Communist Party of China.

In search of religious fulfillment, many Chinese Christians face the threat of religious persecution. According to another story in the Times, it has reached the point that distributing Bibles is earning a three—year prison sentence. 

On November 9th, Cai Zhuohua, 34, a Beijing underground church leader, was recently sentenced to three years in prison for distributing Bibles and other Christian materials.

As he entered church with his wife, the president reportedly wrote in the church's guest book, "May God bless the Christians of China." Hopefully, God's message will reach Mr. Hu's heart. 

Brian Schwarz  11 20 05