Clinton attends church in BeijingJune 27, 1998
Web posted at: 11:40 p.m. EDT (0340 GMT)
BEIJING (CNN) -- In the sanctuary of China's largest Protestant church, U.S. President Bill Clinton brought a message of religious tolerance Sunday to a nation where Christian leaders have been jailed or harassed by the government.
"I believe that Chinese and Americans are brothers and sisters as children of God," Clinton told the congregation. "We come here in that spirit today."
Human rights groups say dozens of Protestant and Catholic leaders are imprisoned or held in Chinese labor camps for refusing to bow to government control. Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin agreed to exchange-visits of religious leaders to further understanding on spiritual matters.
"I believe our faith calls upon us to seek unity with people across the world of different races and backgrounds and creeds," Clinton said.
After worshipping at Chongwenmen Church, the president and his family planned a day of sightseeing at the palaces of the Forbidden City and China's most famous landmark, the Great Wall. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea, and Hillary's mother, Dorothy Rodham, are along on the trip.
Radio Free Asia to broadcast Clinton speech
Also Saturday, U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia -- whose reporters were denied visas to China for President Clinton's visit -- will broadcast his upcoming speech live to the world's most populous country, the station said.
The speech is to start at 9:30 a.m. Monday (2130 EDT/0100 GMT Sunday).
A statement issued by the radio station said its broadcast would be "one of the only ways for the population to hear the words of President Clinton live," because the speech was not being covered live on Chinese radio or television.
"Radio Free Asia's Mandarin Service has obtained 1 1/2 hours of air time prior to its regular 11 a.m. daily broadcast for this special live event," the station said.
China withdrew the three reporters' visas at the last minute this week, a move Clinton described as "a big mistake."
He has cited Radio Free Asia broadcasts as an example of U.S. determination to keep a spotlight on China's human rights record.
Funded by the U.S. government, Radio Free Asia is similar to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which beamed U.S. news and views into communist nations during the Cold War. A scaled-back operation now broadcasts from Prague.
China views Radio Free Asia as an American propaganda tool and has sought to jam its broadcasts.
Clinton repeats human-rights stance in radio talk
Meanwhile, in Beijing, Clinton used his own weekly radio spot to reiterate his position that China should continue to ease restrictions on its citizens.
Clinton's radio address came just hours after sparks flew during his debate with Jiang over the question of human rights and the treatment of Chinese dissidents.
The two leaders, at times, raised their voices when stating their contrasting political and social views, but the overall mood was civil.
"Over the past year, we have seen some progress in this (human rights) area, though still far from enough," Clinton said in his solo broadcast. "Some of China's famous political prisoners have been released, but others still languish in prison."
"The government is loosening its control over many aspects of daily life, yet people still are not completely free to meet, to publish, to speak, to worship according to the dictates of their own hearts," he said.
"Throughout this trip, I will raise human rights [issues] and try to explain how freedom has been at the heart of America's success and prosperity.
"I will also argue that in this global information age, when economic success is built on ideas, personal freedom is necessary to the innovation and creativity that are essential to the greatness of any modern nation."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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