WASHINGTON (BP) — Representatives of diverse faith groups have called on President Barack Obama to press Xi Jinping on religious and other human rights issues during the Chinese president’s visit to the United States capital.
Xi will be in Washington for a White House state visit tonight and tomorrow. Some human rights proponents have criticized the Obama administration’s decision to grant Xi a state visit.
In less than three years as head of the Communist Party that rules the world’s most populous country, Xi has overseen a repressive campaign against Christians and other religious adherents that close observers say has been unrivaled in China since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is pleading with the president and Secretary of State John Kerry “to make the religious freedom of our Chinese neighbors, including millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ, an urgent point of leadership within the international community.”
Christian, Buddhist and Muslim leaders gathered at a Capitol Hill news conference Sept. 23 to urge Obama to raise human rights issues in his meetings with Xi, whose last 18 months of reign have been especially repressive, the religious freedom proponents said, citing arrests of government-registered church members and the destroying of more than 1,500 crosses.
The organizations are uniting with other human rights advocates for a mid-day rally outside the White House tomorrow.
The U.S. State Department has designated China as one of its “countries of particular concern,” a category reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious liberty.