Theresa May urged to challenge China on religious freedom crackdown during state visit

Christian charities urged U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to challenge China's president over the nation's ongoing crackdown on religious freedom during her recent state visit to the Asian country last Jan. 21 to Feb. 2.

(REUTERS / Dylan Martinez)Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May attends a press conference in London, Britain, June 30, 2016.

Andre Boyd of Release International told Premier that the Chinese government now wants to have all churches registered in order to have a hold on their appointed leaders and teachings. He added that Christians who do not bow to government control are being labeled as evil cults.

May's state visit to China came as the Communist country is due to enforce new restrictions on religion. In light of the situation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide hoped that the British prime minister was able to raise the issue with the Chinese president as they discussed the expansion of their trade.

"We hope she will raise these cases and urge China that if it wants to be a global superpower, which it clearly is in the running for, it needs to uphold human rights for its own people," said Benedict Rogers of CSW.

On the final day of May's tour in China on Feb. 2, the Global Times commended her for having "sidestepped" the calls to challenge the Chinese leadership over the Christian crackdown. The state-run newspaper applauded the British prime minister for prioritizing the economic collaboration between the two countries, The Guardian reported.

In addition, the Global Times said May sees the greater loss her country would incur if she caves in to Western media's clamor during her official visit to China. The publication added that the "mudslinging" of western media cannot stop the cooperation between Beijing and Britain.

It is worth noting that May had vowed to raise the issue of human rights with Chinese leaders when she travelled to China on Jan. 30. However, she failed to mention that topic when she attended a press conference with Premier Li Keqiang the following day.