Will Obama Confront China on Human Rights Issues?

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China is an economic superpower with the world's fastest growing economy and boasts the world's largest population.

Yet, as China's influence increases, so does international concern about the country's affairs.

China is still a Communist country and the government has little tolerance for those who worship outside official churches.

But what pressure, if any, should the U.S. put on China to guarantee religious freedom?

President Obama will meet with leaders in China next week with the goal of solidifying U.S relations with the country.

Topping the White House agenda for discussion is the global economy, trade, climate change and regional and global security issues-- including terrorism, Iran and North Korea.

Just before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited China earlier this year, she said human rights would not be a top priority of the Obama administration.

The U.S. still lists China as a country of particular concern for religious freedom.

china aid association president bob fu gives one reason why....

"The government wants to exercise total control of the church and order the church not to exercise their faith, especially to practice their faith by sharing the gospel wherever they are," said Bob Fu of the China Aid Association.

When the State Department released it's annual religious freedom survey last month, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said religious freedom will be part of the U.S.-China dialogue for a long time to come.

He expressed concern for the 50- 90-million Christians who worship in China's unregistered churches.

"What we are trying to do is encourage the Chinese government to recognize and allow people of faith, various faiths, to practice and that's also part of the dialogue as far as I'm concerned," Posner said.

The president may raise human rights and religious freedom issues privately. Also, unlike his predecessor, Obama is not planning to attend a church during his China visit.

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