02/15/2012 01:36 pm ET

China Rejects U.S. Religious Freedom Ambassador, Suzan Johnson Cook

China has snubbed the U.S. religious freedom envoy, refusing to meet with her and denying her a visa to travel to China.

Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, was slated to fly to China on Feb. 8, according to various rights advocates who met with her ahead of the planned visit, the Washington Post reports.

From the Post:

But as the date drew near, Chinese leaders refused to grant her meetings with government officials.

They then cited her lack of scheduled meetings as a reason for denying her visa application, according to the advocates and a congressional aide, who were briefed on the situation.

Writing on the Baptist Joint Committee blog, Don Byrd reacted with alarm to China's decision.

"Religious freedom is a universal human right that should be respected by all governments," Byrd wrote. "So, what should be done when one of the world's largest and most powerful nations refuses that right, and refuses to let anyone in to talk about it?"

News of Cook's rejection came as China's Vice President Xi Jinping visited with President Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

The Atlantic Wire notes that it's unclear if U.S. officials have talked with Xi about Cook's snubbing, or whether she could travel to China in the future.