Tuesday, March 30, 2021 : By Isa Ryan
As Western nations joined to condemn Beijing for its treatment of religious minorities in China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has retaliated by slapping U.S. religious rights officials and a Canadian politician with sanctions.
One of those officials, Canadian Michael Chong, a Conservative Party leader and the official opposition shadow minister for foreign affairs, called the sanctions a “badge of honor.” He tweeted: “We who live freely in democracies under the rule of law must speak for the voiceless.”
Gayle Manchin, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said that she was “flattered” to be targeted for sanctions by Beijing for her outspoken criticism of their treatment of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang province.
Manchin, who is the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and USCIRF vice-chair Tony Perkins received the brunt of Beijing’s frustration after the U.S. issued sanctions against China for the ongoing human rights abuses in the Turkish-majority region.
Manchin told Reuters in a statement after the U.S. condemned China for their retaliatory sanctions that while “I don’t have plans to travel to China this summer, I won’t stop speaking out when egregious violations of religious freedom are taking place as they are in China.”
And egregious they are. Global scrutiny has increased in recent years over the treatment of the Uighurs and other religious minorities at the hand of the Chinese authoritarians, which has been found to fall well within the U.N.’s definition of genocide.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the sanctions “only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. We stand in solidarity with Canada, the UK, the EU, and other partners and allies around the world in calling on the (China) to end the human rights violations and abuses.”
Uighur Muslims are often detained in concentration camps where they are subjected to horrific treatment, according to survivors and those who have seen inside the detention centers.
One woman who taught Chinese inside the camps testified that detainees were punished for speaking Uighur and subject to strange injections, torture, rape, and sleep deprivation. Global critics have also accused China of subjecting Uighurs to forced sterilization and abortions.
Beijing maintains that no abuses are taking place and that the camps are necessary to combat extremism. In a tone consistent with the bold, antagonistic stance Beijing has taken towards the Biden administration, Chinese officials demanded that Western critics repent of their “mistakes” and recognize China’s sovereignty. In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said,
“The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and urges the relevant parties to clearly understand the situation and redress their mistakes. They must stop political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in any form and refrain from going farther down the wrong path. Otherwise they will get their fingers burnt.”
Concerns that the Biden administration could be pushed around by China in its quest for global domination have not been quelled as the CCP continues to strongly signal that they expect their demands of the West to be met.
One point on which they have been particularly adamant is their refusal to welcome any international criticism of the treatment of their own people or the territories they claim as their own. Within the first few weeks of Biden’s term, China was issuing stern warnings to the U.S. not to cross their “red line” — meaning any criticism of their treatment of those under their rule in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
There is no debating that CCP officials in Beijing intend to take a firm, antagonistic stance towards anyone who questions their record on basic freedoms and human rights, to say nothing of their inhumane detention, torture, forced sterilization, and even execution of vulnerable populations.
The U.S. is right to address China’s heinous human rights abuses, but will our officials have the fortitude not to blink as they stare down these tyrants? Let’s hope because one thing we know about China is that its officials don’t respond kindly to weakness.