International (MNN) — Indian authorities reject the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report, which recommends sanctions and a “country of particular concern” (CPC) designation. Chinese officials had a similar reaction.
When a reporter questioned China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang about the USCIRF report in yesterday’s press conference, Shuang responded with the following:
The so-called commission you mentioned never runs short of political bias against China. Over the years, it has published one report after another to slander China’s religious policies. We urge the US side to respect the basic facts, discard arrogance and prejudice, stop the wrong practice of publishing such reports year after year, and stop using religious issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
Targeted sanctions, an Olympic boycott, and legislative support were among the USCIRF’s recommendations regarding China. The U.S. religious watchdog suggested CPC designations for 14 countries while praising Sudan and Uzbekistan for making “tangible improvements.”
Why China and India cause problems
Though both are presented to Congress, the USCIRF’s report differs from the U.S. State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) report. Organized by the Office of International Religious Freedom, this report describes the status of religious freedom in every country. More on that here.
“India has been on USCIRF’s tier two list since 2010. This is a country we’ve been watching very closely, and the trends have been very negative and concerning,” USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said in a recent press conference. “Additionally… USCIRF has not been granted entrance to India, and we certainly would like to go to India and observe these things for ourselves.”
Chief among the commission’s concerns are India’s recent Citizenship Amendment Act, the 2019 removal of Kashmir’s autonomy, the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to limit religious groups’ activities, and anti-conversion laws. Learn how India persecutes Christians.
USCIRF commissioner Tenzin Dorjee called China “the classic example of a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, when it comes to religious freedom violations.” Learn how China persecutes Christians. Additionally, “China is exporting [its] own intolerance around the world. And a key part of that strategy is manipulating the international system to do so,” USCIRF commissioner Johnnie Moore stated.
“China has systematically and deliberately managed to increase [its] influence in all of these international organizations over the last decade, and they have now managed to have this key role in determining the independent watchdogs of the United Nations… this is not a small issue. It is catastrophic.”
The USCIRF report could help persecuted believers if the U.S. applies pressure to India and China. However, as Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton explains, “The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issues a report every year. They issue recommendations to the State Department, but it is up to the State Department to enact those recommendations, or not enact them.”
Three ways to help Christians
No matter what governments do next, Nettleton describes three ways you can help.
First, and most importantly, pray. Use the prompts listed alongside this article as a starting point. “This list from the USCIRF is a prayer guide,” Nettleton adds. “Those are places and those are Christians that we can pray for from our homes, from our businesses; whether we’re on quarantine, or not on quarantine.”
Second, if you live in the U.S., reach out to your representatives. Here’s a good place to start. “We need to let our elected officials know that this is important to us; this is something we consider when we vote,” Nettleton says.
“Let’s use our foreign policy as a way to promote religious freedom [and] protect religious minorities in countries around the world.”
Third, you can help meet the needs of persecuted believers through VOM USA. Details here.
Header image is a screenshot of the cover image on the 2020 USCIRF annual report.