- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2016

As President Obama meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday in Washington, Beijing is protesting a U.S. decision to allow one of China’s exiled religious leaders into the country.

China’s foreign ministry issued a formal protest to the State Department for allowing Dolkun Isa, head of the World Uighur Congress, to visit the U.S. Mr. Isa received an award Wednesday in Washington from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation for his work advocating for the rights of Muslim Uighurs living in western China.

The Chinese government considers Mr. Isa a terrorist leader, and he has been living in exile since 1997.

Mr. Xi is meeting with Mr. Obama Thursday on the sidelines of a global nuclear security summit in Washington; White House officials say that human rights in China is on the agenda, as well as cyber-hacking and Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea.

Marion Smith, executive director of Victims of Communism, said his group received a phone call from a State Department official about the awards ceremony for Mr. Isa.

“They said there was interest from China as to why this event would be held honoring Isa during Xi’s visit,” Mr. Smith said.

SEE ALSO: Nuclear security summit offers Obama last chance to push China on human rights

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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