Calvin Freiburger reports for LifeSiteNews — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released its annual report on religious persecution around the world, and while it calls attention to ongoing abuses at the hands of the Chinese government, Chinese Christians say the situation on the ground is even worse.
The report recommends that the U.S. State Department continue its designation of China as a “country of particular concern” over the continued “deteriorat(ion)” of religious freedom in the country.
“Independent experts estimate that between 900,000 and 1.8 million Uighur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims have been detained in more than 1,300 concentration camps in Xinjiang,” where they experience “torture, rape, sterilization, and other abuses,” the report says. “The Chinese government continued to pursue a strategy of forced assimilation and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism,” including torture and imprisonment of “monks and nuns who refused to denounce the Dalai Lama.”
“Chinese authorities raided or closed down hundreds of Protestant house churches in 2019, including Rock Church in Henan Province and Shouwang Church in Beijing,” it continues. “Authorities across the country have removed crosses from churches, banned youth under the age of 18 from participating in religious services, and replaced images of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary with pictures of President Xi Jinping.”
The report recommends that the U.S. government pressure the Chinese regime to change through a variety of measures, including public condemnation, economic sanctions against Chinese agencies, banning officials such as Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo from entering the U.S., and legislation banning the importation of goods from Xinjiang.
But while the report is welcome among Chinese Christians and their defenders, some told UCA News that it could have gone even further.
One religious scholar speaking anonymously told the news service of an additional practice: “Coercion of citizens to sign declarations rejecting religion under the threat of denying them benefits” such as their pensions. “It is a serious violation of human rights and contempt for the law, causing regression of the legal system in society.”
“After all these years since the Cultural Revolution, people have just regained a little bit of sanity, but they didn’t expect to go back all of a sudden, which is a disaster,” the scholar added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to the USCIRF report for “denigrating China’s religious policy,” which should be an internal affair.
Father Thomas Wang explained to UCA News that China sees the situation as follows: “I beat my wife and children behind closed doors; it has nothing to do with you, I just beat them to death, it’s our family business, it’s none of your business.”