TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Ahead of International Religious Freedom Day on Sunday (Oct. 27), U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said the U.S. will continue to speak out against religious persecution in China, in the hope Beijing will deal with the problem.
Brownback held a press briefing Friday (Oct. 25) to speak on U.S. religious freedom policy. International Religious Freedom Day coincides with the 21st anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, and he was asked if the U.S. has made any progress on China’s human rights issues.
The ambassador replied he is pleased the U.S. has raised human rights issues with China. Although human rights have not been formally discussed between the U.S. and China in the same way that trade has, he said the U.S. will use every opportunity to speak out strongly on this topic.
According to CNA, Brownback added that he hopes Beijing will one day agree to face up to its "deaf" religious persecution record. He stressed: "This is not just a question of Xinjiang and Muslim minorities, but also house churches (independent Christian assemblies), Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong. It is the entire faith community."
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently told media that Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations and China’s human rights violations are important considerations in U.S.-China trade negotiations.
On Oct. 7, the Trump administration blacklisted 28 Chinese organizations for their involvement in human rights violations in China. On Oct. 8, U.S. visa restrictions were imposed on the China government and Communist Party officials accused of being involved in the detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang province, northwest China.
In September, the U.S. held its first religious freedom conference during the U.N. General Assembly. Brownback pointed out more countries are combating the problem of religious persecution by holding round-table forums, participating in religious freedom conferences, and forming alliances.
In March, Brownback paid a diplomatic visit to Taiwan, meeting with government officials and religious leaders. At a reception hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) office he was thanked for his continued support of Taiwan and for the U.S. being an ally in the fight for global religious freedom.
The latest study by Pew Research Center found that 80% of the world's population lives in countries where religious freedom is highly or severely restricted.
According to Brownback, in the past, Western countries hoped that international religious issues would pass over time and were thus unwilling to confront them. However, they have now realized that due to recent religion-based repression, massacres and detentions, "we must deal with this issue."
He stressed: "Only by embracing and protecting religious freedom can states achieve economic ideals, ensure security and eradicate terrorism."