China’s “systematic and egregious violations of religious freedom” against the Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners “betray the Olympic spirit,” Nury Turkel, the vice-chair of USCIRF said.
Where is adulthood in the US-China relationship? Chinese actions and the US reactions or vice versa only highlight the double standards of both sides.
On December 21, the Chinese authorities announced that 'overseas organizations' and individuals are not allowed to operate online religious information services within the Chinese territory. The New Measures were jointly enacted by five departments.
Citing national security interests, the new rules, 'Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services' were brought into force close on the heels of Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a religious matters related conference.
The 'new measures' are based on existing laws and regulations, including Cybersecurity Law and Regulations on Religious Affairs.
Any Chinese organization or individual that operates online religious information services also has to submit an application to provincial religious affairs departments.
In short, this move opens up yet another area of confrontation between 'communists China' and the US, which now has a Catholic President in Joe Biden.
In fact, prior to incumbent Biden, only John F. Kennedy was the Catholic president. Nevertheless, the issue in focus is the fact that after intense trade wars and 'conflicts' over Taiwan and other skirmishes such as the Indo Pacific, religion would now come under increased pressure vis-a-vis US-China relationships.
China has already barred the entry of representatives of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The US earlier ordered 'sanctions against human rights abuses in Xinjiang province' where Uyghur Muslims are allegedly kept in detention camps.
Top authorities in China too have been named. "Shohrat Zakir served as the Chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Erken Tuniyaz (Tuniyaz) now serves as the acting Chairman of the XUAR and had served as its Vice Chairman. During their tenures, more than one million Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups have been detained in Xinjiang," the US statement has said in December 2021.
The representatives of USCIRF, a federal entity that evaluates policies for countries where religious freedom is facing threats and troubles, planned to visit China to get first-hand information. It may be mentioned here that the USCIRF in their December 10, 2021 report had imposed financial sanctions on the notorious Bangladeshi police unit Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and six of its current and former officers for human rights violations.
Earlier the US announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics Games in Beijing. Nury Turkel, the vice-chair of USCIRF, even stated “… a genocidal regime (China) should not have been granted the privilege to host the Olympics in the first place.”
China’s “systematic and egregious violations of religious freedom” against the Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners “betray the Olympic spirit,” Turkel had said.
Inspired by the US and like-minded forces, the issue of 'religious freedom' in China was also taken up by the UN. China denies abuses in Xinjiang and says its policies and camps are only meant for vocational training.
Of course, Beijing has spoken about Islamic extremism in some of its regions. At the global stage, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has reportedly sought approval to visit Xinjiang for years now to look into the allegations of persecution of Uyghur Muslims on religious grounds, but things are still on the waitlist.
China is also in conflict with the European Union and some other western countries over issues related to religion. Organising and conducting religious activities and live broadcasting or recording religious ceremonies such as worshipping Buddha, burning incense, chanting, mass and baptism have been banned by authorities in China.
No organisation or individual is permitted to raise funds in the name of religion on the internet. It's not economical for both sides to keep 'repairing' damages in the ties and also keep adding new dimensions.