Dharamshala: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended China along with other countries such as Afghanistan, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Burma etc. as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) in its 2022 annual report, published on 25 April.
“The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released its 2022 annual report documenting developments during 2021, including significant regress in countries such as Afghanistan and the Central African Republic (CAR). USCIRF’s 2022 Annual Report provides recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s promotion of freedom of religion or belief abroad,” USCIRF stated on its website.
In the report’s section on China, the USCIRF wrote: “In 2021, religious freedom conditions in China deteriorated. The government continued to vigorously implement its “sinicization of religion” policy and demand that religious groups and adherents support the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rule and ideology.”
“Throughout 2021, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA)—a government agency under direct control of the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)— and other agencies issued new legal measures, imposing further restrictions on clergy, religious schools, and religious content on the internet,” it added.
On China’s suppression of Tibetan Buddhism, the report noted that the Chinese government continued its pervasive control and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism. “In May, it (China) issued a white paper on Tibet that included an emphasis on sinicizing religion there. In July, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping visited Tibet and stressed the importance of “fully implementing” the Party’s religious policies. Local authorities organized seminars to indoctrinate monks and nuns at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, restricted Tibetans’ access to temples with heavy security presence, destroyed sites and symbols of religious significance, and detained and punished Tibetans for listening to the Dalai Lama’s teachings or possessing his portrait,” it stated.
In its recommendation to the US government, the Commission said China should be re-designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). It also recommended that that US administration work with like-minded countries in international fora, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, to collectively hold the Chinese government accountable for severe religious freedom violations.
It further urged the US Congress to ensure that the US administration fully enforce China-related human rights legislations such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and Tibet Policy and Support Act (TPSA) to alleviate religious freedom inside China.