By / Jun 10

The Uyghur people and Hong Kong political dissenters face daily persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Human rights advocates and Western governments have rightly criticized the Chinese government for targeting the predominantly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group for illegitimate detention and abusive “pacification” under the guise of national security. In Hong Kong, authorities have arrested dozens of pro-democracy leaders and restricted freedoms of speech and the press. While circumstances are constantly changing, one thing is certain: the United States should swiftly offer refuge to those fleeing persecution.

For decades, Southern Baptists have ministered “care, compassion, and the gospel to refugees who come to the United States” and encouraged our churches and families “to welcome and adopt refugees into their churches and homes as a means to demonstrate to the nations that our God longs for every tribe, tongue, and nation to be welcomed at his throne (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9–12; Psalms 68:5; James 1:27; Leviticus 25:35; Leviticus 19: 33–34).” We mourn the plight of refugees and affirm that “Christian love should be extended to them as special objects of God’s mercy in a world that has displaced them from their homelands.”

The ERLC will continue the admirable Southern Baptist legacy of advocating for the dignity of vulnerable people around the globe. Central to the Church’s mission is the biblical mandate to pursue justice for all people, “speak[ing] up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Prov. 31:8) To truly “walk in the way of Christ,” the Church is called to “defend the rights of the poor and needy” and practice God’s love for the immigrant, refugee, and foreigner (Eph. 5:1-2, Prov. 31:9).

What kind of persecution do Uyghurs and Hong Kongers face?

The U.S. government, under both the Trump and Biden administrations, have officially determined that the CCP is committing genocide in Xinjiang, China, against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minority groups. Since 2017, the CCP has waged a systemic campaign of oppression and persecution against Uyghurs through totalitarian tactics like pervasive surveillance, thought control, ideological reeducation, forced birth control, and compulsory labor. China has built more than 1,000 internment camps to detain between 1 and 3 million Uyghurs for “reeducation” purposes. Physical and psychological abuse such as rape, torture, malnourishment, and forced organ harvesting is rampant throughout these camps. Recently, leaked photos and files have further implicated senior Chinese officials who issued shoot-to-kill directives, trained police to exercise violent detainment measures, and ordered draconian prison sentences for thousands of Uyghurs on arbitrary charges of terrorism.

In Hong Kong, China has punished dissent and violently suppressed unrest by wielding the same “security” practices used in mainland China under the National Security Law. This law endangers political dissenters and people of faith in Hong Kong, placing them at risk of life prison sentences or extradition to the mainland.

What is Priority 2 refugee status?

The United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR) defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.” Refugees must have “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” The U.S. refugee program categorizes eligible refugees in one of three priority groups. Priority 2 (P-2) refugee status is granted to “groups of special humanitarian concern,” which are often specific ethnic, religious, or national people groups vulnerable to persecution.

Offering P-2 refugee status provides a lifeline to vulnerable Uyghur Muslims and Hong Kong dissenters. This status would grant Uyghurs and Hong Kongers direct access to the U.S. refugee system, expediting their ability to apply for asylum or long-term residency. P-2 refugees are not required to obtain referrals from the UNHCR or an embassy, which helps accelerate the process for Uyghurs and Hong Kongers who must quickly flee a country where they face immediate threats of genocide and persecution.

Priority 2 refugee status is an increasingly important tool in the United States’ arsenal as the refugee resettlement program faces unprecedented backlogs. Without priority status, those Uyghurs and Hong Kongers who are able to escape would be forced to wait years in perilous circumstances to eventually be processed and find safety in the United States.

How is the ERLC involved?

A bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives are currently working to finalize the Bipartisan Innovation Act. The bill is a multibillion dollar economic competitiveness package meant to bolster American technology and innovation and keep pace with China. Versions of this bill passed the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives with significant differences, and now, members of both parties from both chambers—known as conferees—are negotiating to reconcile a final package. Priority 2 refugee status for Uyghurs and Hong Kongers was included in the House-passed version of this legislation but was previously excluded from the Senate-passed version. The ERLC sent a letter to Congressional leadership and conferees advocating for the inclusion of P-2 status for Uyghurs and Hong Kongers to be included in the final bill.

If the United States wants to be serious in its efforts to counter China through this package, legislators must prioritize efforts to counter China morally. Providing refuge to these vulnerable people would send a clear message to Beijing that the United States opposes the CCP’s attempts to oppress religious and ethnic minorities and silence its dissenters by denying them fundamental human rights. By offering P-2 refugee status to Uyghurs and Hong Kongers fleeing persecution, America can demonstrate that this country is a safe haven for the persecuted and a vanguard against nations that abuse human rights and violate religious liberties.

ERLC Intern Daniel Hostetter contributed to this article.

By / Aug 6

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the delta variant, the world surpassing 200 million COVID cases, NYC mandates COVID vaccine proof, reports about Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Biden signing EO for Hong Kongers, the Belarus Olympic runner, and how Simone Biles opens up about the passing of her aunt. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Alex Ward with “What modern Baptists can learn from Thomas Helwys: Religious liberty, theological conviction, and perseverance,” Jason Thacker with “How Christians can combat the dangerous reality of (COVID) disinformation,” and ERLC Staff with “Do state-level anti-abortion laws reduce abortion rates?”

ERLC Content


  1. Delta variant is now 93% of all US cases
  2. World surpasses 200 million COVID cases
  3. NYC mandates COVID vaccine proof to enter indoor restaurants, venues, gyms
  4. NY AG releases scathing report about Gov. Cuomo
  5. Andrew Cuomo To Receive International Emmy For ‘Masterful’ COVID-19 Briefings
  6. Biden signs EO for Hong Kongers fleeing China’s repression
  7. Belarus Olympic runner lands safely in Poland
  8. Simone Biles reveals her aunt died unexpectedly during Tokyo Olympics


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By / Jul 2

Last week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took new steps in their ongoing campaign against Hong Kong’s democracy. Apple Daily, a popular pro-democracy newspaper that was often critical of Beijing, was forced to close down while a handful of its journalists were arrested.

What happened?

This most recent crackdown is months in the making. The CCP passed a broad national security law in June 2020 that criminalized secession, subversion, collusion, and other activities. Beijing has used the law extensively over the past year to arrest protestors, dissidents, and human rights activists. Jimmy Lai, the founder of Apple Daily, was even arrested late last year under the national security law for participating in an unauthorized assembly in October 2019. 

With Apple Daily’s founder in prison, it seemed as though the newspaper’s days were numbered. Police raided the paper’s office on June 16 and confiscated hard drives, arrested top editors, and froze the company’s assets. Less than one week after the raid, Apple Daily said that it was closing its doors permanently. Late last week, the paper printed one million copies of its final edition which sold out at stalls across the city.

On top of the office’s closure, Hong Kong police have arrested at least seven staffers from the shuttered newspaper. Most notably, Fung Wai-kong, a senior editor at Apple Daily, was arrested under the national security law on Sunday evening in the Hong Kong airport as he attempted to board a flight for the United Kingdom. He was released on bail two days later and is scheduled to report back to the police in late July.

What is Apple Daily?

Apple Daily was a pro-democracy newspaper that mixed both salacious gossip and investigative journalism and was unapologetically critical of the CCP. Apple Daily’s founder, Jimmy Lai, started the company in 1995 after Beijing threatened his lucrative international clothing brand in response to multiple articles he wrote criticizing the CCP’s response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In the newspaper’s 26-year run, it became a staple of daily life in Hong Kong and a thorn in the CCP’s side as it produced story after story investigating and ridiculing party officials.

What is the relationship between Hong Kong and China?

Hong Kong operates under the decades-old principle of “one country, two systems,” which defines the relationship between the city and the rest of mainland China. Under the agreement brokered by the British when they handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, the city was guaranteed a “high degree of autonomy” without political interference from Beijing over the course of a 50-year transition period. As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal and political system that is strikingly distinct from the mainland. In exchange for guaranteeing these freedoms, western democracies treated Hong Kong with a special status, allowing Hong Kong to serve as an important banking and trading hub with mainland China and the region.

What does this mean for Hong Kong?

Apple Daily’s closure is a signal of Beijing’s intent to further restrict the freedoms that Hongkongers have enjoyed for nearly a quarter century. Article 27 of Hong Kong’s quasi-constitution, the Basic Law, says “Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions; and to strike.” 

Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s unique autonomy may well be fundamentally weakened due to the new National Security Law. The closure of Apple Daily under the pretense of national security concerns directly undermines Article 27’s protections for free speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to assemble. The crackdown on Hong Kong’s press seems to confirm many advocates’ worst fears — that Beijing is going to use the National Security Law to take away Hongkongers individual liberties. 

What will happen next?

The Biden administration has largely stayed the course set by former President Trump of increased pressure on China. Last year, the Trump administration declared that Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous from China to merit its special status which included trade privileges and other benefits. Antony Blinken, Biden’s secretary of state, concurred earlier this year, saying in a mandated annual determination regarding Hong Kong’s status that, “Over the past year . . . China has continued to dismantle Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, in violation of its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”

In addition to maintaining the State Department’s determination, a bipartisan group of senators has called on President Biden to impose sanctions on the CCP over the closure of Apple Daily. The senators cited the July 2020 Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which gives the president the authority to sanction “any foreign person, including foreign businesses, that are ‘materially contributing’ to the ‘inability of the people of Hong Kong to enjoy the freedom of assembly, speech, press, or independent rule of law.” Biden appears likely to heed the senators’ advice as he also issued a statement last week declaring his administration’s unwavering support for Hongkongers and their democratic institutions. 

However, U.S. sanctions will likely only have a limited effect. When Hong Kong first changed hands to Chinese control, its economy represented almost 20% of China’s GDP. Today, that number is below 3%. In short, the backlash China has received from the West for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy simply matters less to Beijing than it used to. Therefore, while sanctions from the U.S. government are likely, it appears as though Hong Kong will continue to lose the freedoms it has enjoyed as the CCP hardens its stance against democracy at home and abroad. 

The ERLC is supportive of the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, which designates Hong Kong residents as Priority 2 refugees and streamlines their admission process to the United States. This important bill would ensure that the United States can be a place of refuge for Hongkongers fleeing political persecution. The ERLC will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and advocate for policies that protect and promote fundamental human rights around the world.

By / Nov 23

Yet again, there are troubling developments on the island city of Hong Kong. This land that once was home to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and open trade between the countries of the east and the west is slipping further under totalitarian control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

What happened?

On Wednesday, November 11, Beijing passed a resolution that sought to empower Hong Kong’s authorities to disquality legislators on what they deemed “a threat to national security” without having to go through a judicial process. Local authorities acted quickly with these powers and forced out four lawmakers, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki, Kenneth Leung and Alvin Yeung, for their pro-democracy stances in the Hong Kong Legislative Council. The authority of executive branch leaders to target lawmakers at will is the latest in a long series of blows against the city’s long held democratic heritage.

In response to Beijing’s rapidly expanding control of the island, fifteen pro-democracy legislators announced their intention to resign in solidarity.

The CCP is making clear that it won’t tolerate support for democracy among legislators, and anyone bold enough to oppose the CCP will pay a price.

Pro-democracy legislator Fernando Cheung stated, “Today is definitely the darkest day in Hong Kong so far.” Lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki maintained a hopeful perspective, “As long as our resolve to fight for freedom, equality and justice remains unchanged, one day we will see the return of the core values we cherish.” But for now, these values remain under existential assault from the CCP.

Why does this matter?

On June 9, 2019, an estimated one million Hong Kongers began what would become protracted protests. At issue was an extradition bill supported by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and pushed by the communist party leaders in Beijing, that would have allowed for extraditions to mainland China.

Over the following months, the protestors rallied around five political demands: the withdrawal the extradition bill, an investigation into alleged police brutality against demonstrators, the release arrested protestors, retract the characterization of the protests as “riots,” and the resignation of Lam. Although Lam eventually withdrew the legislation, the Hong Kong government did not budge on the other items, and the protests continued.

In response, Beijing imposed a national security law in 2020 that expanded its control over Hong Kong, including broad powers to punish critics and silence dissenters. The law bans “sedition, secession, and treason” yet does not define those terms. This new draconian statute, left open to the interpretation of whatever Beijing wills, puts the individual liberties of Hongkongers at risk by criminalizing dissent and positioning the CCP to appoint judges to rule on national security cases.

For decades since 1997, Hong Kong and mainland China have operated under a “one country, two systems,” principle. Under this system, Hong Kong operated with a “high degree of autonomy” and without political interference from Beijing. This meant Hongkongers enjoyed significant individual freedoms relative to their mainland neighbors. Western democracies, including the United States, treated Hong Kong with a special status that allowed Hong Kong to thrive economically as it became a commercial and financial regional hub.

In July, President Trump responded to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong by revoking the special status of Hong Kong and signed the bipartisan Hong Kong Autonomy Act, imposing sanctions on foreign individuals and entities for “contributing to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

Hongkongers know how the communist government in Beijing treats its citizens, severely restricting their freedoms of religion, assembly, and speech. The world is watching as the Chinese Communist Party remakes Hong Kong in its own image. Freedom-loving men and women on the island-city and around the world are concerned. 

For further reading

What Hong Kong reveals about the future of China

What you need to know about the U.S. announcement that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China

Is Beijing dropping the hammer on Hong Kong?

By / Jul 9

It is no secret that the Chinese government has been leveraging technology in order to strengthen its standing throughout the world. Outside of mainland China, companies with deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), such as telecommunications giant Huawei, have been accused of using their technologies to aid the CCP in national security efforts. They do this by sharing private information in order for the country to gain an edge over their international rivals such as Europe and the United States. In recent years, China has become a technology superpower with major advances in artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and other emerging technologies, driven in large part by the state-backed partnerships forged by government leaders.

But inside the country, there have been blatant violations of human rights and religious liberty. Examples include the atrocities committed against minority people groups like the Uighur Muslims and those against Chinese citizens who live in a society without basic freedoms such as freedom of expression, press, and access to information. These freedoms are often blocked by a highly sophisticated censorship operation known as “The Great Firewall of China.” Anything interpreted as against the Chinese state is prohibited and filtered out for the public consumption. This Chinese oppression and control also extends to constant surveillance—especially through the use of facial recognition—as well as promises of widespread deployment of a social credit score system in order to clamp down on dissidents under the heavy hand of President Xi Jinping’s government.

What is the relationship between China and Hong Kong?

As ERLC policy director Chelsea Patterson Sobolik has written, “since the 1997 transition from the United Kingdom to China, Hong Kong has operated under a system of law that guaranteed a ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement for the city. Under this system, Hongkongers have enjoyed economic and civil freedoms that people in mainland China do not.” Hong Kong, while residing in mainland China, has operated with a separate government from that of the rest of China, and the people of Hong Kong were guaranteed certain freedoms that the rest of China does not enjoy. But these freedoms have been short lived as Beijing has implemented a drastic new security bill designed to crackdown on dissidents and any foriegn influence on the people of Hong Kong, which in many ways brings Hong Kong under the same level of control and surveillance as the rest of China.

This security bill, which went into full effect on July 1, was drafted in secret by the Beijing government, and the contents of the bill were not even known to the government leaders of Hong Kong until its passage. While certain details are still vague, it seems that under the new law any company doing business in Hong Kong must hand over a wide range of customer information and comply with censorship requests from the Chinese government. This security law will extend the draconian levels of Chinese censorship and digital surveillance to Hong Kong, which has historically enjoyed freedoms that Chinese citizens have not because of the unique “one country, two governments” approach since the 1997 transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China.

What just happened?

In recent days, a number of technology companies have withdrawn or paused operations in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong amidst rising tensions in the city. Companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have vowed to stop honoring government requests for information in Hong Kong as they push back against this sweeping security bill. Currently it seems that these U.S.-based companies are pausing these requests until they can assess the ramifications of the new law, but there is hope that these companies may use their influence to push for greater freedoms in Hong Kong.

As Vox reports, this pushback “represents a rare moment when big American tech companies are contesting China’s tight grip on information in the country.” Facebook and Twitter have long been barred from mainland China and its 1.4 billion inhabitants over their refusals to abide by the surveillance and censorship rules set by Beijing. Google has operated in a limited capacity in China, but many have questioned the company’s future plans to expand in the Chinese market. All three U.S. firms have operated freely in Hong Kong until this recent move with the new security bill.

Even Chinese-owned Byte-Dance, parent company of the viral TikTok video app, has stated that it will cease operations in Hong Kong over the next few days even though the Hong Kong market is small compared to other markets. Interestingly, this move by TikTok comes days after India banned TikTok over concerns of collusion with the Chinese government, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s indication that the United States may also be considering a similar ban based on similar security concerns.

Why does this matter?

The refusal to hand over user information to government officials by these technology companies may signal a greater willingness to push back against the Chinese abuse of power than we have seen in the past and a massive opportunity to raise awareness of the human rights violations in China and Hong Kong. As these U.S. firms refuse to comply with the stipulations imposed by Beijing—citing basic human rights and freedom of expression for their users—there is a real cost for them financially because they will be cutting themselves off from the entirety of the expansive Chinese market. This tense situation in Hong Kong may lead to real change and lasting efforts to reign in the abuse of power seen by the CCP in Hong Kong and hopefully throughout the rest of China. But the prospect of the CCP losing power is likely bleak.

The stand taken by these U.S. firms is an encouraging sign that the United States, as a whole, may continue to challenge the CCP—both economically and morally—as these companies seem to be standing with the pro-democracy and pro-human rights efforts in Hong Kong. With the sweeping new security law, lawmakers have been debating how the United States and similarly situated nations should respond in the midst of this crisis in Hong Kong. While many technology companies are not honoring government requests for data or shutting down services completely in Hong Kong, there are other ways that the United States and other nations can intervene by putting pressure on the Chinese government to stop this political persecution in Hong Kong, but also provide for those fleeing this persecution. 

The ERLC has been doing considerable work on these issues in Hong Kong and surrounding areas, raising awareness and supporting many efforts like the recently announced Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, which is a piece of legislation that allows the U.S., to be a refuge for Hongkongers fleeing political persecution. Other efforts such as activist movements and efforts to raise public awareness have been taking place for months amid major protests in Hong Kong over this security bill and other moves by the Chinese government to exert control over the people in Hong Kong, which is in violation of the 1997 agreement.

As Christians, we are called by God to stand with the oppressed and vulnerable—wherever they may reside throughout the world—because we believe in the dignity of every human life as created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-28). While the fate and freedom of Hongkongers is in peril, it is imperative for the world community to speak out against these injustices and the blatant violations of basic human rights by the Chinese Communist Party, as we stand alongside the people of Hong Kong who seek to exercise their God-given rights of freedom of expression.

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.

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