WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama's pick to be the next US envoy to China, Mr Gary Locke, has said he 'will consider' worshipping at a so-called Christian 'house church' not formally recognised by Beijing.
'That is something that I will consider,' the Commerce Secretary, whose confirmation as envoy by the US Senate is virtually assured, told a key House of Representatives committee at a hearing on his department's budget on Thursday.
His evasive reply drew an angry response from Republican Representative Frank Wolf, a frequent and fierce critic of Beijing, who had asked Mr Locke whether he would worship at one of the underground churches.
When Mr Locke attempted to elaborate, saying, 'how I practise my religion is not something for the American people...', Mr Wolf cut him off, raising his voice and pounding the table as he demanded a stronger stand against Beijing.
'It is for the American people,' Mr Wolf said.
'It's to stand with the dissidents who are being persecuted, who are being hauled away, and the American embassy in China ought to be an island of freedom.'
[Wolf seems to have an exaggerated sense of purpose of the US embassy, the role of the envoy/ambassador, and the role of the US in other country's domestic policy. And the sad and scary thing is that the US is full if idiots like him.]
'It's not something that I think I should be stating in public,' replied Mr Locke, who is broadly popular with US lawmakers.
Calling Mr Locke's answer 'a cop-out', Mr Wolf said: 'Mr Ambassador, if you don't publicly identify with the persecuted in China, then more people will be persecuted.'
Mr Wolf added that US officials should openly declare their criticism of Beijing's rights record, not 'whisper it privately'.
Mr Locke said: 'I believe that the position of the United States government with respect to human rights around the world, including China, is very clear.'
'We very much support, as a government, greater religious freedom, including the house churches, and we encourage people to attend those house churches, and all forms of worship within China,' he added.