A leading seminary in Hong Kong has cancelled the visit of two Chinese house church Christians who recently met with U.S. President George W. Bush.
The Hong Kong-based China Graduate School of Theology (CGST) originally invited Yu Jie, Li Baiguang and Zhang Qianjin to participant in a study program in Hong Kong on June 11-24. After Yu and Lis high-profile meeting with Bush on religious freedom at the White House Thursday, CGST suddenly decided to cancel the scheduled visit temporarily, according to an email received by Yu and released on the Chinese website of the Texas-based Chinese persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA).
The email, which is written in Chinese, stated, "Regarding a certain international issue that has raised widespread concern recently, we believe that it is not an appropriate time to invite you to come to Hong Kong at this moment."
CGST said it apologized sincerely and wished to "be understood."
At the end of the letter, CGST added that it would invite them again for academic exchange if there was any such opportunity. The letter was undersigned by the Acting Director of Chinese Culture Research Center of CGST, Dr. Kevin Xi Yi Yao. Li, a prominent writer-peasants right advocate and legal professional who met with Bush last week and was invited by CGST, also received a copy of the letter through email.
On the CAAs Chinese website, Yu described the letter as "unacceptable." He admitted that Hong Kong may have faced political pressure because of Li and his visit to Bush last week. However, the theological seminary could have honestly explained to them this sensitive concern and they would taken initiative to cancel the meeting, Yu suggested.
"This letter is totally ridiculous. It seems to charge our actions and thus disqualify us from attending the theological program in Hong Kong. And what does it means by inappropriate? Is there any problem for a citizen to meet Bush according to the law in Hong Kong and Mainland China?" complained Yu in the CAA website.
Yu expressed deep disappointment with the response of the theological seminary in Hong Kong. He therefore requested for compensation from the seminary, including the fee both Li and Yu have spent on applying visa to Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong branch of the San Francisco-based Gospel Herald has tried to contact CGST for their explanation on the decision, but CGST has not yet been able to give any reply.
Established in 1973 in Hong Kong, CGST is originally founded by four Chinese students from the Texas-based Westminster Theological Seminary. CGST aims to be an inter-denominational, evangelical and localized seminary that can train students to serve the Church in China and to spread the Gospel to all countries.
The Center has viewed the handover of Hong Kong to China as a new opportunity to win people to Christ. Therefore, it has been leading much academic research and exchanges to help Chinese Christians go back to the roots, to look at Chinas culture and history, and understand how it will contribute to the future of China's evangelistic ministries.
CGSTs Yao has his research interests focused on China's evangelistic theologians and churches in the 20th century. He also helps in receiving scholars from mainland China and assisting CGST to develop stronger and further academic relations with other universities in the mainland.