Canada: EFC Press Release - International Trade Minister Should Hold China Accountable

General fr 22/01/2007

Canada’s (EFC) Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) issued the following statement in advance of International Trade Minister, David Emerson’s upcoming visit to China.

The RLC is deeply concerned about the increasing pressure China’s Christian community is under as a result of the Chinese government’s Regulations on Religious Affairs which have allowed for the continued repression of churches and groups determined to be outside the scope of the state-controlled religious system.

The RLC is also concerned about the detention and charges brought against Chinese human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng. His sentence, a five-year suspension from the practice of law and deprivation of political rights for one year, was handed down on December 22, 2006 and came at the end of more than four months of detention, periods of effective house arrest, physical abuse and harassment of Mr. Zhisheng and his family. His detention and sentence appear to be linked to his defence of religious freedom and support of numerous activists in .

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics to be held in August 2008, Chinese authorities have promised to improve the country’s poor human rights record. However, ’s continued violation of human rights demonstrates a refusal to meet these promises.

In light of the final run-up to the 2008 Olympics, the RLC encourages the Canadian government and human rights groups to intensify their attention on China and condemn its violations of human rights, and encourage improvements in that area.

The Honourable David Emerson, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics will visit from January 14 to 19, 2007. The visit is aimed at strengthening ’s overall commercial relationship with . It will include a visit to the site of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing .

For more information or an interview contact:
Gail Reid
Director, Communications
905-479-5885, ext. 227
Cell: 647-227-3464