07/15/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – Chinese persecution against religious minorities, specifically Christians, was discussed at a recent event titled “Tackling Threats to Religious Freedom in China” in Washington, D.C.
The event’s co-hosts Heritage Foundation and International Christian Concern (ICC), invited guest speakers Bob Fu (President and Founder of ChinaAid), Tim Carothers (ICC Advocacy Manager of Southeast Asia), and June Lin (Senior Program Officer of Freedom House) to the event.
Opening speaker Mr. Nury Turkel, US Commissioner on International Religious Freedom, set the stage by briefly noting injustices faced by religious minorities in China, such as President Xi Jinping’s call for the reinterpretation of the Bible. This demand handed down by the government is an example of Sinicization, or strict adherence to CCP ideology, at work among faith groups. To combat such issues, Mr. Turkel stressed the importance of elected officials and their role in addressing the government’s tight control over religions in China.
During the panel discussion, Ms. June Lin and Mr. Bob Fu discussed the Chinese government’s transnational impact on religious freedom. Ms. Lin briefly commented on the heightened targeting of Catholics in Hong Kong who refuse to attend state-vetted churches. ICC has followed such incidents closely and recently reported posters being placed in front of Catholic churches, urging members to reconsider holding a mass to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Incident of 1989. The religious persecution experienced in Hong Kong resulted from China’s crackdown on the city starting in July 2020.
Mr. Fu also highlighted the Chinese government’s transnational power by discussing the case of Shenzhen’s Holy Reformed Covenant Church in detail. In 2019, the house church and its members fled the country after facing harassment by Chinese officials. Upon seeking refuge in Jeju Island, South Korea, the church applied for asylum, which was denied. 60 church members are currently homeless, waiting for an answer to their second appeal.
The instances mentioned above are only a small fraction of the religious persecutions happening in and around China. To answer what measures can be taken to minimize these occurrences, ICC’s Advocacy Manager for Southeast Asia, Tim Carothers, made several suggestions.
In conjunction with Ms. Lin and Mr. Fu, Mr. Carothers encouraged international actors to take a stronger stance against the Chinese government. He argued that the international trade and business connections established between the United States and China, which create a risk for the products of forced labor and human rights abuses entering the US, are grounds for American concern around Chinese domestic affairs, even if China disagrees. He applauded the passing of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which addresses gross human rights violations against the religious minority group. It is necessary to confront the rise of persecution against religious groups in China.
All three speakers concluded with a sense of urgency, demanding international actors establish respect for an international order by unanimously agreeing that human rights abuses are occurring in China.
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