China’s “utterly disgraceful” human rights record is not just bad, it’s getting worse every year, a new Congressional report has warned.
“The Chinese government’s human rights record is utterly disgraceful, continuing a downward trend over the past three years,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Committee on China, which published the report, stated on Thursday.
“The Chinese government took extraordinary and unprecedented steps last year to decimate the ranks of human rights lawyers, crush independent civil society and religious groups, and expanded controls over the Internet and the press.”
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“China – now ranking as the world’s second largest economy – has benefited greatly from the international rules-based system in driving its economic transformation and growth,” the report’s executive summary stated.
However, it added, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has not improved its human rights record and respected the rule of law as it has been expected to by the international community. From suppression of religious freedom to detaining dissidents and human rights activists to forced population control, the Chinese state “has run roughshod over human rights” Rep. Smith stated, and it must be held accountable.
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The Chinese government also cracked down on the rise of non-sanctioned religious groups in 2015, the report said, and on Friday it exerted greater control over the practice of religion through its new regulations of religion.
“In both law and practice, the Chinese government continued to violate the rights of its citizens to religious freedom,” the report said, noting the state has “broad discretion over religious practice, internal affairs, and interpretations of faith, which is often exercised based on Party and government policy interests.”
Party officials warned at April’s National Conference on Religious Work that religious groups must be loyal to the state and signaled that they will exercise tighter control on religion in the future to guard against the supposed infiltration of foreign powers through religion.
When the party released its religious regulations on Friday, Rep. Smith called it “stunning, but not surprising.”
“Religious practice is exploding in China, particularly among Christians, and the religious life of Tibetan Buddhist, Uyghur Muslim, and Falun Gong practitioners persist despite decades of the worst abuses,” he said.
However, religious groups must register with the government, and in China there is a state Catholic Church and an “underground” Catholic Church. Local and national officials have harassed or persecuted Catholics who are not part of the state Catholic Church, destroying churches and detaining or harassing bishops and priests.
And it seems Malaysia is not far behind: “Taking the rap: Malaysia’s culture of tolerance is under threat”