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05/07/2012 China (MNN) – The United States and China will hold a new round of talks on human rights.

This comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis generated when a Chinese dissident fled to the American embassy in Beijing and eventually asked to leave China for the U.S. Despite the circumstances, the next round of human rights talks is scheduled for this summer in Washington.

Even as it appears there’s been headway in the human rights dialogue between the two nations, an earlier report surfaced from the China Aid Association (CAA) that seems to belie the promises.

According to CAA, China’s government launched a three-phase campaign to eradicate Protestant house churches. A document released last fall by the State Administration for Religious Affairs showed the strategy was to spy out and document what they were doing, encourage affiliation with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and for those who refused to cooperate, and shut them down. That first phase began this year.

Carl Moeller, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, says, “This is nothing new that the Chinese government finds problems with the house church. The Chinese government desires to have all Christians registered and all church activities controlled because, frankly, the Chinese government wants to control all things in commerce in public life as well as private life.”

The words house church would be banned and changed to house gatherings. This term would be used to identify groups meeting in sites affiliated with the TSPM. That boils down to breaking up the mega churches into more manageable chunks.

However, Moeller explains, “The Church in China started as small groups. The reason they got so big is because those small groups became so successful at penetrating all levels of Chinese society, and they were given more access, more freedom, really, to be able to meet and assemble together in larger and larger groups.”

Over the next 10-years as this plan is phased in, Moeller expects to see that “the church is just going to penetrate more layers of society, more parts of the country. It’s the very same situation that happened when the Romans persecuted the early church.”

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