According to an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, China’s violations of religious freedom and its growing influence and activities beyond its borders, were “the most troubling developments” of last year.
In its 2021 annual report released on April 21, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) called out China as one of the world’s “egregious violators” of religious freedom, saying that conditions in China further deteriorated in 2020. This year’s report features not only Beijing’s abuses targeting its own people but also its growing international influence on religious freedom and human rights.
The commission discovered that Beijing’s economic and geopolitical influence overseas had negatively affected rights and freedoms in other countries. “Tactics include harassment, intimidation, and detainment of human rights activists, ethnic and religious minorities, and other critics and dissidents,” it stated.
Countries including Turkey have yielded to Beijing’s pressure by silencing critics and even repatriating Uyghur refugees to China, the report stated.
Religious freedom violations by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its growing threats and intimidation overseas “represented the most troubling developments that we saw in 2020,” Tony Perkins, USCIRF vice chair, said at a virtual press conference on April 21.
The Chinese regime is also pressing international companies, including U.S. firms, to disregard human rights abuses in China, threatening company executives to “choose between complying with U.S. laws and Chinese laws,” according to the report.
Perkins told The Epoch Times that it’s “reprehensible” for U.S. companies to benefit from products or services that are coming from forced labor in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
“We do not think the United States should do anything that would elevate China in the eyes of the international community, when in fact they are one of the worst, if not the worst abusers of this fundamental human right: religious freedom,” he said in the interview.
He denounced the companies and the U.S Chamber of Commerce for opposing the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. “These things should not even be in question,” Perkins said. “They need to get their act together.”
Beijing has repeatedly rejected allegations of forced labor abuses and recently encouraged a nationwide boycott over Western apparel and footwear brands that have distanced themselves from sourcing materials from Xinjiang.
“Alarmingly, China also has been exporting both its internet governance model and advanced surveillance technology and equipment to countries—such as Belarus, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe—where repressive governments actively persecute and oppress human rights activists and political opponents,” the USCIRF report stated.
Repressive regimes worldwide that seek to replicate a “China model” and import the regime’s “digital authoritarianism” are using Chinese technology companies such as Huawei and ZTE to implement and deploy such technology, according to the report.
Human Rights Watch, a leading advocacy group, in January declared that China “remained the biggest threat to global human rights” in 2020.