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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Religious Freedom in China: The Case of Bishop James Su Zhimin

Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 9:00am
2172 Rayburn House Office Building and Virtual


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the religious freedom implications for China of the case of Bishop James Su Zhimin, the Catholic bishop of Baoding in Hubei Province who has been under arrest for the past 17 years.   

There is speculation that Bishop Su, recognized as a prisoner of conscience in the TLHRC Defending Freedoms Project, may be dead, as Chinese authorities have requested that the Catholic Church recognize a new bishop of Baoding who is a member of the State-sanctioned Church, presumably pursuant to the terms of a non-public temporary protocol between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China reached in 2018.  Religious freedom advocates have expressed concern that this is a test case for bringing to heel members of the “underground” Catholic Church, who do not recognize the legitimacy of the official church.

Witnesses will examine the broader implications that the case of Bishop Su has for religious freedom in China, and the ability of religious communities to maintain degrees of autonomy vis-à-vis the State.  The case also provides a springboard for discussion of the 2018 temporary agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese government, and whether it is in the interest of religious believers in China for the agreement to be extended or jettisoned.

This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members who wish to participate remotely may do so via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available on Channel 54 of the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Piero Tozzi at 202-225-3765 (for Rep. Smith) or Kimberly Stanton at 202-805-6308 (for Rep. McGovern).   

Hosted by:

Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I          

  • Nury Turkel, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)  
    Written testimony

Panel II

  • Tom Farr, President, Religious Freedom Institute (via remote)  
    Written testimony
  • Nina Shea, Director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute (via remote)  
    Written testimony


116th Congress