Confronting China’s Suppression of Religion

Instead of the Communist party’s intolerance, democratic Taiwan offers a positive example.

The Diplomat
Date: August 29, 2019
By: Farahnaz Ispahani

response to protests in Hong Kong this summer are part of a wider policy shift under President Xi Jinping that includes

Image Credit: Illustration by Catherine Putz
increasing persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. The Chinese Communist Party and Xi appear to have decided to consolidate power by reverting to a harder line on human rights than was witnessed in the years since China opened to the rest of the world after the era of Mao Zedong.

Beijing’s repression of more than 13 million Muslims in Xinjiang and its increased surveillance of Christians and Tibetan Buddhists is getting worse. China has not respected freedom of religion and belief since the 1949 communist takeover. But just as the suppression of dissent in Hong Kong represents a turning away from the promise and practice of relative freedom over the last few years, mass arbitrary detention, torture, and prohibitions on Islam in Xinjiang are appalling even by China’s standards.

The current set of China’s policies are described as “Xi Jinping Thought” or “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” It is becoming increasingly clear that in this set of beliefs, there is no place for religious tolerance or the freedom of conscience and belief.

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In addition to the so-called “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, where a million Muslims are believed to be detained, reports have surfaced of suppression of Christians in Henan province and increasing scrutiny of Hui Muslims in Ningxia. Unlike the Turkic Uyghurs and Tibetan Buddhists, who are accused of nurturing separatist ideas, China’s Christians and the Hui Muslims are being punished for no reason other than their religious beliefs.

The Chinese government has also cracked down on Falun Gong practitioners, sending many in that community to labor camps. Survivors have recalled suffering torture and sleep deprivation at these camps.

Under the Trump administration, the United States has been vocal in condemning China’s abuses against faith communities. Earlier this year, Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador for International Religious Freedom, said during a speech in Hong Kong that the Chinese government is “at war with faith.”    [FULL  STORY]