The initiative before Congress to formalize trade relations with China may falter due to concerns over human-rights abuses, including persecution of Christians. But a group of American Christian business leaders working in China say economic engagement, not isolation, is the best long-term strategy for nurturing political reform and religious freedom within China."China is searching for its own soul as communism becomes less relevant and discredited," says Tom McCallie, executive director of the MacLellan Foundation, which holds regular consultations on innovative methods of ministry in China. "What relation a company has to its employees says a whole lot to this society. Respecting and hiring people regardless of their religious beliefs is a really important value to communicate to China.""The multinationals are ardent supporters of the rule of law and respect for many freedoms," says Gare Smith, former deputy assistant Secretary of State for human-rights issues. One Christian executive who leads a large American multinational's operations in China supports Smith's point."Despite our pain, discomfort, and anger over abuses in China, it would be wrong to announce that we are cutting off the opportunities to apply our standards and values by living in Chinese communities," says the executive.The executive agreed to a lengthy interview with Christianity Today provided that he not be named. His corporation is a determined advocate for granting China permanent trading rights with the United States.Other Christian business leaders are less sanguine. John Kamm, the influential former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and defender of underground churches in China, cautions that business leaders who place ...

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