Chinese Media Mum on Bush's Church Visit

BEIJING, NOV. 21, 2005 ( Chinese media were practically silent on U.S. President George Bush’s church visit and mention of human rights, says the AsiaNews agency.

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«Bush’s comments on religious freedom were not quoted by Chinese media,» said AsiaNews, an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. «Protestant and Catholic Christians, dissidents, farmers were stopped and sent away in the fear that they might meet the U.S. president.»

The U.S. leader’s visit to China ended today.

«China is still afraid of religious freedom,» a bishop of the underground Church said, noting that, as of this morning, Chinese media had yet to mention Bush’s participation in Sunday services at a Protestant church in Gangwashi.

Bush and his wife, Laura, took part in services and stayed on afterward to chat with the other worshippers and journalists.

«My hope is,» the president said, «that the government of China will not fear the Christians who gather to worship openly. A healthy society is a society that welcomes all faiths.»

Later, during the press conference along with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Bush said, «It is important that social, political and religious freedoms grow in China. And we encourage China to continue making the historic transition to greater freedom.»

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