Human rights concerns are underlying the pageantry of the Beijing Olympics where persecution against certain religious groups continues.
Read the full article by Clifford Coonan at http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/news-and-features/bush-steps-up-pressure-on-china-with-call-for-religious-freedom-890295.html
Here are some excerpts from this article:
President George Bush attended a Christian service in Beijing yesterday to call for greater religious freedom in China but, in an indication of how religious persecution persists in the fiercely secular country, a leading local underground church activist was detained en route to the same ceremony.
Hua Huiqi was cycling to the Kuanjie church when he was stopped by security officers working with the religious affairs bureau. He and his brother were taken away and their bibles were seized.
Mr Bush’s calls for greater religious tolerance come hard on the heels of critical remarks about China’s human rights record that have already angered his hosts. Relations have been strained since his comments last week. Mr Hu was supposed to attend a ceremony to inaugurate the US embassy in Beijing on Friday but decided against.
Nobody knows how many Christians are in China. The official figure is 4 million Roman Catholics and 10 million Protestants, but other estimates, which include the underground churches, put the figure at 54 million, of whom 39 million are Protestant and 14 million Catholics. Christianity has a long history here, mainly from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). After the First Opium War in 1842, missionaries – and especially the schools and universities they founded – played a significant role in Westernising China. Communist China threw out foreign churches in 1950.
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“I told him not to go because it’s during the Olympic Games and this period is sensitive,” Huilin said. “But he was determined to go because he said that church was where he was baptised. So I went with him hoping to protect him.” Later, Huilin said Mr Hua had been able to escape from the location where he was being held because the security officials fell asleep.
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Read the full article at http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/news-and-features/bush-steps-up-pressure-on-china-with-call-for-religious-freedom-890295.html