This week, the U.S. State Department released a report criticizing China's human rights record.
Still, some are skeptical of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans for relations with the country.
Eight years ago, China promised to improve it's human rights record if Beijing was selected as the host city for the 2008 Olympics.
Click play for more insight with CBN News Senior Reporter Gary Lane.
But Karen Stewart, acting U.S. acting assistant secretary of state, says the country hasn't fulfilled that promise.
"China's human rights record remained poor in 2008 and it worsened in some areas," she said.
Among the concerns are torture and extra-judicial killings. Also an issue are limits on free speech and the ability to freely assemble in places like unregistered Christian house churches.
Congressmen and Chinese activists agree with the conclusions of the state department human rights report, but still critical of Secretary Clinton.
During her recent visit to China she said human rights would take a back seat to issues like global warming and the world financial crisis.
"That statement of the secretary of state is an outrage," said Rep. Mike Pence. "We are grateful for their engagement of commerce in our country, but there can be no more important issue than the dignity of man."
China Aid president Bob Fu says the U.S. must be an advocate for minorities and house church Christians--China's greatest resource for stability and overcoming crises.
"Perhaps sometimes they seem like small potatoes, yet the small potatoes are often the best seed for the next crop," he said.
The next generation of Chinese who need encouragement see America as their only hope.
"When the United States does not aggressively pressure China and defend the rights of all who suffer under Chinese rule," Alim Seytof of the Uyghur Human Rights Project explained, "then the people have no defender left in the world."
*Original broadcast February 27, 2009.