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A few weeks ago while visiting China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on one of her first overseas trips as President Obama's foreign policy spokesperson, said the United States will continue to press China's rulers on Tibet, Taiwan, and human rights. So why are evangelicals and other human rights activists feeling a distinct chill?

Perhaps it's because of this statement from Clinton to reporters: "Successive administrations and Chinese governments have been poised back and forth on these issues, and we have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis." She later added, "It is essential that the United States and China have a positive, cooperative relationship."

Clinton's timing could not have been more impeccably embarrassing for the Obama administration — or more discomfiting for house-church Christians and human rights activists inside China. That same week, Clinton's State Department issued its 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, in which it lambasted — who else? — China, for deteriorating human rights.

"The government's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas," the report said. "During the year the government increased its severe cultural and religious repression of ethnic minorities in Tibetan areas — Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labor, including prison labor." The China report goes on like this for 40 pages.

Noting that the persecution of house-church Christians has also worsened, advocacy group China Aid called Clinton's remarks "a ...

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