Bob Fu (Chinese: 傅希秋; pinyin: Fù Xīqiū) is a Chinese American pastor. He is the founder and president since 2002 of China Aid, which provides legal aid to Christians in China. Bob Fu was born in Shandong in 1968 and studied English literature at Liaocheng University in the 1980s. He converted to Christianity after an American teacher gave him a biography of a Chinese Christian convert. After his studies, Fu taught English at the Central Party School in Beijing while participating in the house church movement. In 1996, Bob Fu and his family emigrated to Hong Kong and then the United States, after his wife became pregnant without the government permission to have a child. Fu founded the China Aid Association in Philadelphia in 2002, but moved its headquarters to Midland, Texas in 2004. Fu is also known for his role in helping negotiate barefoot lawyer Chen Guangcheng's immigration to the United States; in this sense, has been described as a "liaison" between oppressed groups in China and foreign governments or media that can help them.
Early life and education
Fu Xiqiu was born in 1968 in Shandong province and started studying English literature at Liaocheng University in 1987. During his time at university, Fu engaged in political activism and started the process of joining the Communist Party of China, with the intention of becoming a government official. His American professors would preach to students from a pocket bible after class. Fu organized a group of students from his university to participate in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in Beijing. When he returned to Shandong, he was investigated but not detained, and ultimately decided not to join the Party. That year, an American English teacher gave him a biography of Xi Shengmo, a 19th-century Chinese Christian convert. After reading the book, Fu decided to convert to Christianity as well.
After completing his studies, Fu taught English at the Central Party School in Beijing while his wife Bochun Cai (b. 1966) studied at the Renmin University of China. The couple evangelized widely, starting a campus church and secret bible school in Fangshan District, Beijing. On May 9, 1996, the couple was detained for running a Christian training center in Fangshan District, Beijing and for illegal evangelizing. On July 8, they left detention in good health, having been reportedly treated well but warned not to engage with foreigners. Authorities said that Fu could keep his job and stay in the dormitory at the Communist Party school, and would not have to pay any fines.
Emigration and activism
That same year, Fu's wife became pregnant in violation of the one-child policy. Rather than face the penalty, they emigrated to the then-British colony of Hong Kong, where Cai gave birth to Daniel Fu (Chinese: 傅博恩; pinyin: Fù Bó'ēn). The National Association of Evangelicals successfully lobbied the Clinton White House to get Fu political asylum in the United States, where he immigrated in 1997, settling in Philadelphia and attending nearby Westminster Theological Seminary. In July 1998, Fu and Cai moved to neighboring Glenside, Pennsylvania to live with another Chinese family in a house purchased by an anonymous donor. They adopted the names "Bob" and "Heidi" at this time.
Fu founded the evangelical China Aid Association in 2002 in response to a crackdown on the Hubei-based unauthorized "South China Church" (Chinese: 华南教会; pinyin: Huánán Jiàohuì). He and other Christians raised enough money for 58 lawyers for the defense, seeding prominent stories about the trial in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The legal charge of "undermining enforcement of the law" was dropped due to insufficient evidence. China Aid enlists thousands of volunteers in China who are available to carry out activities called on by Fu through the internet, telephone, and letters. It also pays the salaries of 30 defense lawyers.
After being invited to visit Midland, Texas by a fellow pastor, he moved his operations there in 2004. According to the New York Times, Fu maintains "close association with Republicans and evangelical Christians". He has prayed in English in American churches, and has cultivated contacts in evangelical groups in Texas. In 2008, Fu arranged for Republican House representative Frank Wolf to meet with an unauthorized house church leader in China. In 2009, Fu persuaded the Bush National Security Council and State Department to grant asylum to the family of Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer known for his defense of house Christians and other sensitive groups.
In May 2012, Fu translated legal activist Chen Guangcheng's appeal to travel to the US in a special congressional hearing convened by representative Chris Smith (R-NJ). Fu criticized President Barack Obama of "abandoning" Chen for his handling of the case.
In America, New York University technicians mistakenly announced that they had found spyware installed on an iPad and iPhone that Fu gifted to Chen via his wife Heidi Cai. Cohen accused Fu of giving Chen a trojan horse "enabl[ing Fu] to monitor his communications secretly", although Fu denied this, saying his technicians only installed Skype for Chen. Cohen and NYU later rescinded these accusations, which they said was based on a misunderstanding of the technology, and clarified that iPad and iPhone given to Mr. Chen by China Aid did not contain spyware.
According to Bob Fu, the China Aid Association aims to "spiritually and legally [equip]" Chinese people "to defend their faith and freedom", with legal reforms ultimately "softening the soil for the Gospel" in China. The organization's 2010 tax listing lists its purpose as raising funds to pay the legal funds of indicted Christians in China. The foundation funds house churches in China which dissent from the official Protestant and Catholic churches of China. To this end, it publishes a house church magazine with a distribution of 80,000 in China. It also provides money, training, and pen pal programs to Chinese religious leaders and their families. As a matter of policy, it opposes forced abortions and compulsory sterilizations.
In 2010, China Aid received $1.28 million in contributions and grants and $84,741 in other funds. Their staff consisted of 15 paid employees and 40 volunteers. Two years later in 2012, China Aid had a budget of $1.5 million; offices in Midland, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles; and a full-time staff of "dozens" in China and more than six in America. The organization runs an annual China Aid gala at the Midland Country Club, which raised $400,000 in 2012. Most of the money comes from Midland oil and gas industry donors; in relative terms, China Aid does not receive much support from the Chinese American community. The oil town was the childhood home of George W. Bush and houses many evangelical pressure groups that advocate on behalf of Christians in non-Christian countries like North Korea. Many residents are on the board of China Aid.
- Kelemen, Michele (2012-05-21). "For Chinese Dissidents, Exile Can Mean Irrelevancy". NPR. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Baltimore, Chris. "Texas pastor drives support for Chinese dissident". Midland, Texas. Reuters.
- "Bob Fu: The Pastor of China's Underground Railroad". The Wall Street Journal. Midland, Texas. 2012-06-01. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Odom, Maida (1998-11-15). "In Memory of Persecution Today Is The Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Abroad. Victims' Stories Are Grim. A New Law May Help". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Huus, Kari (2012-04-30). "Who is Fu? Chinese exile is 'God's double agent'". NBC News. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Fu, Bob (2012-05-14). "Jesus Loves China, Too: Why I'm working to save my homeland, one soul at a time". Foreign Policy.
- "Document - People's Republic of China: Women in China: Detained, victimized but mobilized". Amnesty International. July 1996. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- Kwan, Daniel (2012-07-14). "Christians freed in 'good health'". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Hennessy-Fiske, Molly; Simon, Richard (2012-05-05). "Texas pastor a key player in Chen Guangcheng case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Zaimov, Stoyan (2012-02-27). "Underground Chinese Church Leader Freed After 10 Years". Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Jacobs, Andrew (2012-05-12). "Echoing Out of Texas, Chinese Voice of Dissent for Religious Freedom". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- "Family Research Council: Freedom and Christianity in China", 24 April 2013.
- 36 Chinese L. & Gov't 1 (2003).
- Mathes, Michael (2012-05-13). "China activist pleads for help in call to US lawmakers". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Allen, Jonathan (2013-11-25). "Friends Like These: How a Famed Chinese Dissident Got Caught Up in America's Culture Wars". New York: Reuters. Accessed 2013-12-22.
- Jacobs, Andrew (2013-06-21). "Devices Given to Chinese Legal Advocate Had Tracking Spyware, N.Y.U. Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- "New York University, Jerome Cohen and ChinaAid, Bob Fu Release Joint Statement Regarding the Spyware Controversy", 9 December 2013.
- Constable, Pamela (2012-05-02). "Bob Fu, once obscure crusader of rights in China, is now famous for helping dissident Chen Guangcheng". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- ChinaAid (Official Website)
- God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom (Bob Fu's Autobiography)
- Bob Fu Freedom Collection interview