By / Feb 18

The gross human rights violations committed by the Chinese Communist Party and their authoritarian rule has been in the news lately because of the Winter Olympics. China’s citizens, and specifically minorities like the Uyghur people, have lived under oppression and persecution for years. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian leads the weekly Axios China newsletter and covers China’s role in the world. Below, she answers questions about the history of China’s influence, how they seek to gain power, and how we can learn more about this country.

Jason Thacker: As we get started, can you tell us a little bit about your path of researching and reporting on China?

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: I first went to China in 2004 as part of a study abroad program and really loved my time there. I was in Xiamen, which is a city on the coast, a tropical part of southern China. It was just beautiful, and I really loved the Chinese friends that I made. I also thought the Chinese language was beautiful and fascinating, and the culture and history were interesting. It really changed the course of my life. I never really looked back. After I graduated from undergrad, I went back. I was in China from 2008 to 2012. I lived in Beijing for one year, and in Nanjing for one year. I went back to Xiamen for two years, and then I got a master’s in East Asian studies and started on the path that I’ve been on for the past eight years, which is as a journalist based in D.C., but focusing on China. 

JT: Can you help us to understand a bit of the recent history in China and how they have become a global superpower under president Xi Jinping?

Bethany: So, that started in the 1980s and then rather more quickly in the 1990s, with China’s reform and opening up economically, culturally, and diplomatically to the rest of the world. After China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, you saw enormously quick economic development, 10-12% GDP growth, for a while it held at 18% GDP growth, and certainly economic growth comes with a lot more power in a lot of ways. But what we’ve really seen Xi Jinping do is skillfully locate all the areas where China wasn’t really taking advantage of the power it could have — in ways that it can use its economic strength and translate that into geopolitical power, diplomatic power, other kinds of strategic power. Jinping has really focused on that with his Belt and Road Initiative. It seems that he is trying to create a China-centric world order for the 21st century through bringing in countries bilaterally in their relationship with China and giving them loans and infrastructure projects and deals. But, there’s a lot of strings attached to that, namely supporting China’s goals in multilateral institutions, voting for what they want and giving them backing whenever desired. That’s one aspect. 

The diplomatic push has been really huge, but also we’ve seen a different kind of economic power, a kind that people are calling “economic coercion,” and that’s how China has weaponized access to its markets. For political reasons, in some ways, you could say it’s somewhat analogous to U.S. sanctions. However, the way that China uses its markets in this way is usually to support its own narrow geopolitical interests. So, hot-button issues like the genocide in Xinjiang or policies in Tibet or the way that it has crushed the democracy movement in Hong Kong or people who get too close to Taiwan, you see the Chinese government denying access, usually in a very opaque kind of way for those kinds of actions and speech. 

The Chinese government has also deployed that kind of power for pretty straightforward defense reasons. So, for example, a number of years ago, the South Korean government deployed a U.S. missile defense system called “THAAD” on South Korean soil, and this is mainly as part of their self-defense strategy against North Korea, but it also is right next to China. The Chinese government really did not like this and did not want South Korea to deploy it. So, they basically implemented a bunch of de facto kinds of economic measures against South Korea, including stopping Chinese tourists from going there, a big source of revenue in South Korea, prevented K-pop bands from performing in China or even streaming on Chinese music websites. There was sort of a boycott of Lotteria, which is a South Korean restaurant chain on whose land the THAAD system was deployed. The idea here is that Lotteria or other South Korean companies in the future would lobby their own governments not to have U.S. missile facilities.

What’s really interesting is the way that China acted during the coronavirus. I have seen these ways that the Chinese Communist Party has politicized a lot of its economic ties for these narrow authoritarian political interests. I’ve watched them for years doing that more and more. With coronavirus, we saw the Chinese government deploy this exact kind of power for the first time on an issue that literally affects every person in the world, and that was the discussion of the origins of the coronavirus. So, the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, and almost immediately the Chinese government levied a bunch of tariffs on Australian imports into China and very dramatically affected their wine industry and a number of other industries there. That is the same kind of economic coercion.

JT: What are some of those industries that the Chinese are especially influential in? Obviously, technology is one of those, but what are some of the other industries that have global effects? 

Bethany: Well, one of the earliest examples of this is Hollywood. For example, in 1997, two major films were released that were sympathetic to the Tibetan people. One of them was Seven Years in Tibet with Brad Pitt and one of them was Kundun, which was a Disney film about the life of the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government, as a response, didn’t allow Disney’s Mulan to be shown in China. That was the punishment for Disney. Then, for the studio that had produced Seven Years in Tibet, all of their movies for years afterward were kept out of the Chinese market, even if they had nothing to do with China. And Hollywood really got that lesson. I don’t know of any other industry that was targeted so early, so dramatically, and so effectively, because 1997 was the last time that there was a major Hollywood production about Tibet, and there have been no big blockbuster films that present China in a negative light or across some kind of obvious red line. 

There’ve been numerous examples of self-censorship in Hollywood and that’s just gotten more obvious and more extreme, especially under Xi Jinping, and especially now, as the Chinese box office is the largest box office in the world. We’re seeing so many examples of that and even a proactive messaging that is pro-CCP.  For instance, we’re not going to get from Hollywood a movie like Hotel Rwanda for the Uyghurs. If that movie is made, it’s not going to be made by a major Hollywood studio because it wouldn’t pass CCP censors. 

Technology is a more current example. What’s happening now is not that China’s markets themselves are so lucrative, which they are, but the Chinese tech scene is actually very vibrant. Their STEM research and science and technology sector is really cutting edge, with the possibility of leading the world in artificial intelligence and quantum computing and some of these other emerging technologies. This is a whole other level of influence, and it’s an explicit policy by the Chinese government. This means that tech companies in the U.S. not only feel that they need to tap the market for revenue, but also that they need access. Maybe at some point they’re going to want to do partnerships or they’re going to need access to certain forms of technology to do what they’re doing. 

This is looming in our near future, and what we have seen over and over from the Chinese Communist Party is that any time they have that kind of leverage, they use it for political reasons. And it’s far beyond just censorship. I really want to move past that as the type of control and influence that we’re talking about. We’re talking about shaping behaviors, shaping global standards, shaping how these companies push their own government, what they push on their own governments, how to regulate them, and what they allow, and even shaping what’s considered acceptable for an American company to do or to be a part of. 

For example, the Chinese tech sector has become so influential they are trying to change government backing, trying to set standards by a U.N. standard-setting agency. The Chinese government is trying to set the global norms for issues that are in themselves harmless, but could give a big advantage to Chinese companies. So an interesting analogy here would be 3G. U.S. companies are the ones who set the standards for 3G, and that gave them a huge advantage in the 3G market around the world. So U.S. companies were like the largest telecommunications companies in the world, and it gave them an enormous amount of power which greatly contributed to American prosperity. The Chinese government and Chinese companies are trying to do that, for example, with 5G, with them being the ones that set these very technical standards that would set Huawei and ZTE and other companies up for decades of dominance, with lots of wealth flowing into the hands of Chinese elites. A difference is that the Chinese government would absolutely politicize that power and that excess in a way that the U.S. government never did.

JT: Can you give us a little context on China today about the state of surveillance?

Bethany: The Chinese government is building what you can call a modern 21st-century surveillance state. They implement real name registration, so it’s a lot harder to hide behind anonymous accounts. Local public security bureaus generally have a cyber section, so they monitor what people are saying online, in emails, and all kinds of web traffic in real time. They call in people to talk and arrest people based on what they say or do online, which, you know from a crime-fighting perspective is OK. But in China, when there’s a ton of political crimes, any kind of speech can potentially be criminal, or any kind of organizing action can be criminal. 

The assumption is that if you’re in China, anything that you’re saying or doing online is being monitored either by a human being or by some kind of algorithm that will send alerts to a real person. This is going to happen whether you’re chatting on WeChat, which is like WhatsApp, whether you’re talking on the phone, whether you’re sending emails, your bank transactions; basically anything can be monitored, and that’s enabled in part by increasingly sophisticated data analysis. Since there are not enough human beings to monitor all of that, there are also tons of surveillance cameras blanketing cities throughout China with facial recognition technology. And there is a growing ability to use data to analyze what those images are so that it doesn’t have to be monitored by people like security guards staring at TVs. There’s a sense now that it’s very difficult to hide anywhere, whether or not you should be able to hide or not. 

JT: You wrote a piece last fall at Axios about the pressure that China is exerting on corporate sponsors not to drop them and not to disassociate with the Winter Games, employing somewhat of a “loyalty test.” Can you speak a little bit more about this “loyalty test” that you wrote about last fall and how the Chinese Communist Party has influence over corporations around the world? 

Bethany: Let me first unpack the term privacy in America. In the West, we talk about privacy in a kind of lazy way. We conflate privacy vis-a-vis corporations and privacy in terms of the government. So, whether it’s Google or the U.S. government mining our data, we don’t really draw a distinction between them. It’s all just privacy issues. But, according to the Chinese government, they think about this differently. They have a dividing line there. The Chinese government has promised to improve consumer privacy, and they just passed the data privacy law. They’re trying to have a stronger legal environment around what Chinese companies can do, how they can get data, when they’re allowed to get data, what kinds of notifications they have to get to consumers to get their data, what they can do with that data, and they’re trying to create a stronger legal environment for that. That’s a real thing that’s happening that’s improving privacy. 

However, at the same time, they’re doing everything they can to completely erase all barriers between any data that exists and the Chinese government. They want as much data in real time as possible. So these are two very dramatically bifurcated paths on privacy regarding pressure that the Chinese government puts on corporate sponsors. For example, it was almost certainly the case that if one of the top-level corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympics withdrew and said they were doing it because of human rights concerns, not only would they lose, but it’s very likely you would see the Chinese government take extensive retaliatory measures against them in the Chinese market. 

This happened to H&M last year when H&M said that they were no longer going to be sourcing their cotton from Xinjiang — the cotton industry in Xinjiang is very closely intertwined with Uyghur coerced labor. And when H&M said that, it resulted in a state-banned consumer boycott in China, and their H&M stores were removed from maps so people had a hard time getting there. 

JT: In your opinion, do you think these diplomatic boycotts of the Olympics or the rhetoric turn-around where some are calling these the “Genocide Olympics” is actually going to affect China negatively or exert any type of influence? 

Bethany: I think that every little bit helps, and I think that’s what’s going to happen here. For any history on the Olympics, and specifically Olympics that were boycotted, Beijing will be in there, and the reason that it was boycotted will be there forever. Because there has been this push toward diplomatic boycotts, many governments have had to consider whether or not they will participate. The simple act of considering means learning about what’s happening in Xinjiang. Governments have been forced to learn about what’s happening in Xinjiang and to make a decision that matters. It has greatly increased the prominence and the global discussion around what’s happening in Xinjiang, and that matters. 

Is it going to stop the genocide? No. But in the global efforts to push back against it, every little action builds up over time, and now we have a whole host of sanctions. Even just three years ago, just getting a sanction seemed impossible because the last time there was a human rights-based sanction on China was after Tiananmen, 30 years ago. Now, not only is it possible, but the EU created an entirely new human rights-sanction mechanism and used it on China. So it does matter, and I’m optimistic about the fact that there were diplomatic boycotts. 

JT: What are some resources that you might recommend for listeners if they want to learn more about the history of China or the progress that China has made? Or maybe some of the ways that China is interconnected in the global atmosphere? 

Bethany: Here are some resources I would recommend:

By / Feb 4

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 20, 2022, the ERLC sent a letter to the CEO of NBC Universal, Jeff Shell, calling for accurate coverage during the Beijing Olympics of the Chinese Communist Party’s gross and ongoing human rights violations, particularly the genocide of the Uyghur people. In light of the opening ceremonies and coverage that has already been problematic, we urge NBC and other media outlets to tell the truth about the CCP and to help inform the wider public of these ongoing travesties. The CCP cannot be allowed to use the world stage to showcase a false version of itself and to cover up a genocide.

Dear Mr. Shell,

As you are no doubt aware, there is an ongoing genocide taking place in China. Countless stories have been written about the plight of the Uyghur people who are being brutally oppressed by the Chinese government. Unfortunately, as we have seen most recently with the callous comments from Mr. Chamath Palihapitiya, too many Americans are either unaware of the severity of the situation or indifferent about the treatment of a religious minority across the globe. I am writing to you today because I believe you have a unique opportunity to provide real-time information that could help reveal the truth to millions of people across the globe.

To do that, I would respectfully appeal that NBC use its unique position as a broadcaster of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to highlight the ongoing human rights abuses and genocide of the Uyghur people happening in China and firmly refuse to broadcast Chinese propaganda.

Since 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has waged a systematic war of persecution against the Uyghur people, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group in Xinjiang. Uyghurs are subjected to totalitarian tactics that include pervasive surveillance, forced detainment and placement into internment camps for “political reeducation,” forced labor, forced birth control, sterilization or abortion, rape, physical and psychological torture, and forced organ harvesting. Estimates vary, but experts believe that China has detained between one million and three million Uyghur people in these facilities.

These actions have been labeled as an ongoing genocide by both the Trump and Biden administrations, respectively. In June 2021, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 14.5 million members and a network of over 50,000 cooperating churches and congregations, unanimously passed a resolution rightly calling what’s happening to the Uyghurs a genocide. The SBC was the first denomination to pass such a resolution.

We should all be clear-eyed about this global event. The Chinese government would love nothing more than to use these Winter Games as an opportunity to hide these human rights abuses and lie to the world about the treatment of the Uyghurs. The Chinese Communist Party cannot be allowed to use the world stage to showcase a false version of itself and to cover up a genocide.

NBC has a unique opportunity and responsibility to correctly reframe what viewers are seeing and provide context to the ongoing abuses in China that are happening outside of the Games. Because NBC has its own cameras and crew, you alone are able to showcase protests that might be happening, cut away from Chinese propaganda that is being shown, and provide com- mentary that contextualizes and accurately reports on what viewers are seeing. In the moments that cannot be appropriately shown to viewers, NBC should broadcast documented reports of China’s abuses.

This will be especially important in the opening and closing ceremonies, where China will likely attempt to portray itself as a hospitable nation to all and inappropriately highlight the cultures of ethnic and religious minorities. It is in these moments that NBC must be prepared with the truth and be ready to make a bold stand for human rights.

Mr. Shell, you understand the importance of this global event. Millions of viewers will be tuned in to see world-class athletes compete against one another with the hope of earning a medal for their country. But, in the backdrop of these Games, is an ongoing atrocity the host government would rather be ignored. Resist those efforts. NBC should be on the side of truth and not allow itself to become the international propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

Respectfully,

Brent Leatherwood
Acting President
Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission               

Further resources:

By / Jul 27

Thousands of Cubans are taking to the streets in an historic anti-government protest, demanding change after 62 years of communist rule, says NBC News. As the Financial Times, adds, the communist government is facing a major challenge to its authority for the first time without a member of the Castro family in charge.

According to international observers, there are three main drivers behind the protest: the COVID-19 pandemic, Internet access, and the economic crisis. 

COVID-19

Last year, Cuba was able to keep the coronavirus infections largely under control. But the country now has the highest infection rate per person in Latin America. Over the last week the country has reported nearly 4,000 cases per million people. That is nine times higher than the world average and more than any other country in the Americas for its size.

The sharp rise in new infections is putting a strain on their medical system. Doctors are reporting a lack of oxygen and other medical supplies — including aspirin — while some citizens say their relatives died at home without receiving sufficient medical care. This trend is not expected to change anytime soon, as less than 20% of Cuba’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Internet access

Government authorities have also blocked social media sites in an apparent effort to stop the flow of information. Citizens across the tiny island nation have been using social media to criticize the government and organize protests. But the Cuban government says social networks are used by “enemies of the revolution” to create “destabilisation strategies” that follow CIA manuals.

“The government has created a very sophisticated disinformation process,” says Cuban dissident Tania Bruguera. “They start by saying the people who protested were revolutionaries who were confused. Later, they said [the protesters] were delinquents. Now, they say [the protesters] are people who want the U.S. government to invade Cuba.”

Economic crisis 

Cubans are also facing the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. Cuba’s communist controlled economy has been stagnant since the Soviet Union stopped propping up the local government. But recent actions by the government have deepened the problem. For example, recent economic reforms attempted to raise wages, but have also resulted in price increases. Economists predict prices in Cuba will rise between 500% and 900% in the next few months.

As the BBC reports, Cubans have to wait in long lines to buy goods such as oil, soaps, or chicken. Many provinces have run out of wheat flour and are having to make pumpkin-based bread. “Cubans are doing eight hours in line just to get a piece of bread,” add Bruguera. “And at the same time, the housing situation is worse. People said, ‘Enough.’” 

Cubans also rely heavily on remittances, money transfers from citizens or relatives living abroad. Western Union annually transfers approximately one billion to Cuban citizens from U.S. citizens. Last month, though, the Cuban government said it would temporarily stop banks accepting cash deposits in dollars, the main currency that Cubans receive in remittances from abroad. The move was seen by some economists, notes the BBC, as the most severe restriction imposed on the U.S. currency since the government of the late president, Fidel Castro.

“The American left needs to understand that Cuba is no longer the paradise of social justice. It’s a dictatorship,” says Bruguera. “And the U.S. government should be on the side of the Cuban people. I would say to the American politicians, to be on the side of the people and to not believe the fake news and the stories the government is creating.”

Global Magnitsky sanctions

U.S. President Joe Biden labeled Cuba a “failed state” that is “repressing their citizens” during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 15.

On July 22, the Biden administration sanctioned one Cuban individual and one Cuban entity for serious human rights abuse, pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world. This action targets the Cuban Minister of Defense and the Brigada Especial Nacional del Ministerio del Interior of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior for their role in facilitating the repression of peaceful, pro-democratic protests in Cuba that began on July 11.

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, passed by Congress in 2016, authorized the executive branch to impose visa bans and blocking sanctions against any foreign person or entity “responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country seeking to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials, or to obtain, exercise, or promote human rights and freedoms.” In 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption” that significantly broadens the scope of the Global Magnitsky Act by authorizing sanctions targeting a broader range of persons associated with serious human rights abuse.

Global Magnitsky sanctions are a powerful tool to promote human rights abroad. By allowing the U.S. to apply targeted sanctions, these sanctions can pressure foreign government leaders and entities to change their behavior.  The ERLC has been supportive of the use of the Global Magnitsky Act to counter repressive regimes, most recently against China due to the ongoing genocide taking place against the Uyghur people.

By / Feb 9

“Their goal is to destroy everyone. And everybody knows it.” 

Tursunay Ziawudun, a Uyghur woman, spent nine months in one of China’s internment camps in Xinjiang. She was recently interviewed for a BBC article detailing the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that Uyghur women face in the camps. 

In the article, Uyghur women who have fled China describe the brutal rape and torture they experienced when imprisoned. (Warning: The article describes vivid physical and sexual violence.) Sexual violence is dehumanizing in every way possible. God created sex to be a unifying and pleasurable act, enjoyed between a husband and a wife. Yet, in a world wrecked by sin, sex is often used as a way for evil people to wield power over the vulnerable. By nature, women are typically more physically vulnerable than men, and nefarious men will use sexual abuse, rape, or other forms of sexual torment to control women and exert power.

U.S. Secretary of State issues official determination of genocide

On January 19, on his last day in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an official determination that the People’s Republic of China is “committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, for targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” According to Axios, the U.S. has become the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s unconscionable human rights abuses in its far northwest. During his first full day at the Department, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated a similar view of the atrocities, “my judgment remains that genocide was committed against the Uighurs.”

Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to persecute Uyghur women

Former Secretary Pompeo stated that one of the key facts in his determination was the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to severely oppress Uyghur women with draconian birth control measures. Uyghur women are subjected to forced pregnancy checks, medication that stops their menstrual period, forced abortions, and surgical sterilizations. One of the major reasons that Uyghur women are even sent to the internment camps is for having too many children. The CCP’s goal, it seems, is to eradicate future generations of Uyghurs from China by maliciously manipulating who can and can’t bear children, and how many children a family can legally conceive. 

Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, in a new report delineates how the CCP has been systematically targeting Uyghur women in a draconian birth-control campaign. The report research reveals that birth-control violations are punishable by extrajudicial internment in “training” camps, and evidence from the leaked “Karakax List” document states that such violations were the most common reason for internment. According to Zenz’s report, “in 2014, 2.5 percent of newly placed IUDs [intrauterine birth-control devices] in China were fitted in Xinjiang. In 2018, that share rose to 80 percent, far above Xinjiang’s 1.8 percent share of China’s population. Between 2015 and 2018, Xinjiang placed 7.8 times more new IUDs per capita than the national average.”

This, in itself, is nothing new. The CCP has waged a long and dreadful war against women, more specifically against baby girls. Through the coercion of the one- and two-child policies, it created a gender imbalance as stark as 120 boys for every 100 girls. Families in China often had to seek the approval of local family-planning officials just to have a child, even if they hadn’t already reached the one-child cutoff. To meet quotas and restrict population growth, women were subject to forced abortions, and men and women to forced sterilizations.

A genocide determination is a critical step in countering China morally, and the United States was correct in making this assessment. However, countering the CCP’s gross violations of human rights abuses must be a global effort, and other countries should stand up too for the persecuted and the oppressed.

What should Christians do to address this persecution of Uyghur women?

As Christians, we are commanded to care deeply about persecution and violence against the vulnerable. Both are antithetical to how God designed humans to flourish. Christians should educate themselves and then speak clearly and boldly about the abuses that are happening to women and girls around the world. We should advocate for the vulnerable, abused, and voiceless in every nation. Few of us will ever endure what Uyghur women experience, but we ought to use our freedom and our voices to call for protection of persecuted people abroad.

By / Dec 10

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik and Travis Wussow are both back around the table with Jeff Pickering for a wide ranging policy conversation about the ERLC’s priorities for the Lame Duck Congress and then the Biden Administration.

Then on the second half of the show, China expert Michael Sobolik joins us for a deep dive on Chinese Communist Party politics, history of the U.S. China relationship, and what it means for human rights advocacy today.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Searching for Christmas by JD Greear. Find out more about this book at thegoodbook.com.

Guest Biography

Michael Sobolik is a Fellow in Indo-Pacific Studies at the American Foriegn Policy Council. His work covers American and Chinese grand strategy, regional economic and security trends, America’s alliance architecture in Asia, and human rights. Michael also serves as editor of AFPC’s monthly newsletter Indo-Pacific Monitor. His analysis has appeared in The Diplomat, The Hill, Jane’s Defence Weekly, The National Interest, National Review, Newsweek, Providence, and RealClearDefense. Prior to joining AFPC, Michael served as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. Ted Cruz from 2014 to 2019 and managed his Indo-Pacific policy portfolio. While in the Senate, Michael drafted legislation on China, Russia, India, Taiwan, North Korea, and Cambodia, as well as strategic systems and missile defense. Michael is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where he also earned his Master of International Affairs degree in American grand strategy and U.S.-China relations at the Bush School of Government and Public Service.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Jul 1

The ERLC affirms that Scripture calls for and expects God’s people to minister to the sojourner. God’s love for the immigrant, refugee, and foreigner is a consistent biblical theme, and he calls his people to do the same. Jesus Christ himself, the greatest example of love, implores us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, regardless of race, nationality, religion, or status. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed the National Security law, which represents a dramatic violation of the “one country, two systems” agreement between China and the West.  This aggressive act gives China the power to use the same “security” practices used in mainland China to punish and suppress dissent and unrest.  This law puts political dissenters and people of faith in Hong Kong in danger and at risk of life in prison and perhaps extradition to the mainland.

The Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act designates Hong Kong residents as Priority 2 refugees and streamlines their admission process to the United States. This bipartisan bill opens up an asylum path for frontline activists in immediate danger. Additionally, the bill instructs the Secretary of State to coordinate the intake of Hong Kongers as refugees with other like-minded countries. Passage of this bill would send a clear message to Beijing that the United States does not support the CCP’s attempt to silence its dissenters by denying them fundamental human rights.

The United States has a history of welcoming refugees fleeing persecution. Hong Kongers will face increasing threats to freedom of assembly and the right to practice religion in the community as the CCP begins to enforce the National Security law.  The Chinese government treats large groups—even those peacefully gathered and maintained—as a disruption to public order unless registered and controlled.  To that end, the government deploys surveillance devices capable of facial recognition in state-sanctioned and unregistered houses of worship as a means of control and intimidation.  With these mainland “security” measures now extended to Hong Kong, Christians and other religious minorities are especially vulnerable and in need of protection.

The ERLC supports the bipartisan Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act so that the United States can be a place of refuge for Hong Kongers fleeing political persecution.

By / Jun 26

Communist China’s stand against freedom is becoming increasingly aggressive with both the persecution of their own citizens and the forced changes in Hong Kong. Chelsea Patterson Sobolik and Travis Wussow welcome David Curry of Open Doors USA to the roundtable to discuss these recent developments and how it affects religious freedom in this part of the world.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Beautifully Distinct: Conversations with Friends on Faith, Life, and Culture, edited by Trillia Newbell

Guest Biography

David Curry is the CEO of Open Doors USA, which is a non-profit dedicated to providing support for persecuted Christians around the world. For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive regions, empowering and equipping persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries by providing Bibles, training, and programs to help strengthen the church. Since assuming the role of CEO in August 2013, Curry has traveled extensively to encourage those living under persecution and support the work of Open Doors. In addition, Curry is often present in Washington, D.C., advocating for religious freedom at the highest levels of our government. He has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and met with a wide range of policymakers in Washington from both sides of the aisle, including at the White House, in the Senate and at the U.S. State Department.

Resources from the Conversation