China Sanctions Champions for International Religious Freedom

03/29/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – Two commissioners from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) have been sanctioned by China for criticizing its treatment of religious minorities. The sanctions target Chairwoman Gayle Manchin and Commissioner Tony Perkins, restricting them from traveling to or doing business in China. The move comes amid escalating tensions between the United States and China over China’s inhumane treatment of Uyghur Muslims, Christians, and other religious minorities.

The United States has condemned the sanctions as baseless. In a statement regarding the new sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”

In addition, China moved to sanction Michael Chong, a member of the Canadian Parliament who serves as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons. Chong has been a vocal critic of China’s many religious freedom violations and has, along with Manchin and Perkins, called attention to the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The United States and its partners in Canada, the European Union, and Great Britain sanctioned a number of senior Chinese officials early last week, prompting a flurry of responses from China, which denies all allegations of human rights violations despite mounting proof to the contrary. Among those targeted in last week’s coordinated sanctions were Wang Junzheng and Chen Mingguo, both senior party officials in the Xinjiang region.

In addition to highlighting the issue of persecution in China, the coordinated sanctions point to a new era of international pressure on China under the Biden administration. The sanctions come on the heels of several weeks of meetings between the United States and its allies in Asia, including a reconvening of the Quad—a coalition made up of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia—and Blinken’s recent tour of Japan and South Korea. In comments, Blinken has indicated that he wants to coordinate regional responses to China’s aggression rather than act unilaterally.

In response, Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy at International Christian Concern (ICC), said, “At ICC we commend the bold stance that Chairwoman Manchin, Commissioner Perkins, MP Chong, and their outstanding staffs have taken against the rampant abuses of the CCP. The CCP’s move to sanction these individuals is a clear indicator that they are beginning to feel the pressure of the international community.”

For interviews, contact Alison Garcia: press@persecution.org

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