ICC Note: The testimony of the USCIRF chair before Congress highlights the concerns that many have about the Chinese government’s failure to provide religious freedom to a wide spectrum of believers. There is also concern that China’s official intolerance of any religion has not been a high priority of the Obama administration.
By Yang Chen
10/28/2015 China (VOA News)
A U.S. official testifying before Congress has called for the U.S State Department to re-designate China and other countries that violate human rights and religious freedom as “countries of particular concern” in its annual reports.
Robert George, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal government commission, told a Congressional panel Wednesday he believes China and some other countries have made no progress in safeguarding religious freedoms during the past year.
He urged the U.S. State Department to list the worst offenders of religious rights.
“We’ve recommended that the following eight countries be re-designated: Burma [Myanmar], China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan,” George said.
George later told VOA that China needs to improve its human rights record.
“We need to see in China greater respect for the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, for the house church members, for the Catholics, for the Uighur Muslims, for the Falun gong. We need to see China make room, [and] respect the freedom of civil society. There is too much control from the state on the individual Chinese people and their families,” George said.
Republican Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Human Rights Congressional subcommittee, said he is also concerned about the situation in China.
“We have heard about the persecution faced by Chinese Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, and Falun Gong at the hands of [a] communist party suspicious of organized religion,” Smith said.
Republican Congressman Curt Clawson, a member of the subcommittee, questioned the Obama administration’s sincerity in making religious freedom a top priority.