Detained Hong Kong Bible smuggling suspect Lai Kwong-keung could find himself at the centre of an intensifying political and diplomatic battle, a prominent US congressman warned yesterday. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, said Lai's treatment would prove a 'great test' of Beijing and the administration of US President George W. Bush in the weeks ahead. 'It's going to mobilise the Christian community here [in the US] and I can promise you there is going to be a great deal of pressure for action,' Mr Rohrabacher said from Long Beach, California. 'He was delivering Bibles and he now faces the death penalty . . . it is just so demonstrably repressive of a Christian life. This is going to resonate across Washington and across the country.' Lai, 38, is due to face trial this weekend on anti-cult charges with two mainlanders after he allegedly tried to deliver two shipments of Bibles to an evangelical Protestant sect in Fuqing city. Known as the 'Shouters', the group has ties to groups overseas under the banner of the so-called Local Church. Lai, a church member, was reportedly asked to deliver shipments by church leaders based in Anaheim, California - a city represented in Washington by Mr Rohrabacher, who has a reputation as a fierce critic of the Beijing leadership. The indictment issued last month alleges that Lai was 'using a cult to undermine the enforcement of law' by arranging two shipments - each of more than 16,000 Bibles - to Fuqing from Hong Kong via Shenzhen. Mr Rohrabacher said he would be raising the issue with the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives when Congress reconvened later this month, insisting he would not let his Republican ties stop him pressuring the Bush team. Some human rights groups and political analysts have warned that China might use recent co-operation with the US to fight terrorism as a political cover to intensify crackdowns against various minorities. Some fear the White House may also now start playing down human rights issues to ensure continued help from countries such as China. Mr Rohrabacher said no such slippage could be allowed. Mr Bush has expressed deep concern over the matter and asked the State Department to seek urgent explanations from Beijing ahead of a possible diplomatic protest. Department spokesman Richard Boucher said China had yet to respond after discussions in Washington and Beijing.