President Obama and Chinese
President Xi Jinping. (AP)
(CNSNews.com) – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is encouraging President Barack Obama to bring up the deteriorating state of religious liberty in Communist China when he attends the G20 Summit there on Sept. 4-5.
“Religious freedom conditions in China have deteriorated under the leadership of President Xi Jinping,” a press release distributed to the media states.
“Given this deterioration, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urges President Obama to raise religious freedom concerns with President Xi and urge the release of prisoners of conscience during his visit to China for the G20 Summit,” states the release.
“As the Chinese government aggressively asserts itself on the global stage, at home it aggressively violates the human rights and religious freedom of its citizens,” Thomas J. Reese, chairman of the commission, said in a statement.
“While these violations have intensified in Zhejiang Province, the location of the G20 Summit, they also are taking place throughout China as the government seeks to repress the voices of individuals and groups advocating for their rights,” said Reese.
The commission notes that the city where the summit will be held has a large Christian population and that Chinese authorities, citing “safety concerns,” have closed churches and banned religious activities in hospitals.
Since 2013, the Communist Chinese government has destroyed some 1,500 crosses and some churches, according to the Commission.
The totalitarian government has also cracked down on people of other faiths, including Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddists, and Falun Gong practitioners, with “forcible disappearances, torture, detention, and imprisonment” done by government authorities.
The commission said prisoners of conscience in China include: Bao Guohua and Xing Wenxiang, Protestant pastors from Zhejiang sentenced this year to 14 and 12 years’ imprisonment for opposing cross removals; Ilham Tohti, a Uighur Muslim scholar sentenced to life imprisonment for his peaceful advocacy of Uighur rights; and Thabkhe (Thamkey) Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk serving a 15-year prison sentence following protests against the government’s repressive rule of Tibet.
“USCIRF again recommended in 2016 that China be designated as a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act for its particularly severe violations of religious freedom,” the press release states. “The State Department has designated China as a CPC since 1999.”