A series of high-level meetings between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and an official from the People’s Republic of China is expected to lead to “regularized” operations for the Church in China.
A statement from the First Presidency of the Church disclosed today that a senior representative of the People’s Republic of China — the highest ranking representative from Beijing to meet with Church leaders — has visited with the First Presidency.
That meeting in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, 24 August, followed meetings in February and May in Beijing, attended by Church apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, who are responsible for overseeing the Church in Asia, on assignment from the First Presidency. These meetings were initiated by the Chinese representative.
Elders Oaks and Hallstrom represent two of the most senior councils of the Church — Elder Oaks of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy.
“It is important to understand what the term regularizing means, and what it does not mean,” Church spokesman Michael Otterson said. “It does not mean that we anticipate sending missionaries to China. That issue is not even under consideration.
“The Church deeply appreciates the courtesy of the Chinese leadership in opening up a way to better define how the Church and its members can proceed with daily activities, all in harmony with Chinese law.”
Otterson said that many details need to be worked out in further discussions with Chinese officials but that the pending developments were the result of 30 years of building mutual trust with the Chinese.
“They have become thoroughly familiar with us through numerous contacts, and they have seen how we and our members operate in China. They know that we are people of our word when it comes to respecting Chinese law and cultural expectations,” he said.
The formal, brief statement from the First Presidency said that they and other senior leaders at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City “have had discussions with a senior official of the People’s Republic of China from Beijing, and have established a relationship which we expect will lead to regularizing the activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in China.”
Otterson said that given the importance of understanding and complying with various Chinese laws and the need for ongoing cooperative efforts, the Church does not plan to comment further on the discussions for the time being.
“At the conclusion of the meeting in Salt Lake City, it was agreed that it would be appropriate for this information to be announced publicly,” Otterson said.