Established last year by twenty-seven countries including the U.S., International Religious Freedom Alliance claims to be committed to protecting and advocating freedom of religions and beliefs throughout the world, and has entrusted itself with a so-called sacred mission – offering supplements for the ongoing work of the United Nations and other multilateral international organizations on a global scale. The organization invited religious representatives from “32 countries” to hold an online conference on January 14 this year to discuss the global state of religious freedom, bypassing the United Nations and other relevant multilateral international organizations. It was reported that the online conference was hosted by Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom appointed by the Trump administration.
What is striking and provocative is that the online conference held by the alliance invited a former Khenpo of a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in South India, who was not recognized by the Tibetan government of China or the Tibetan Buddhist community, to describe to the participants the alleged human rights situation in Tibet, especially the freedom of religious beliefs.
It is not surprising that Mr. Sam Brownback, who is called “rumor expert” by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesmen and is about to leave his post as Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, once again showed grave concern about China's religious freedom at this conference, and condemned what he called the Chinese government's persecution of religious freedom.
This Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, appointed by the Trump administration, declared publicly that the Chinese government had imprisoned a large number of people because of religious beliefs, including millions of Xinjiang Muslims during the outbreak of COVID-19 globally, and called on China to release the “religious offenders” in custody during the epidemic.
A serious problem with Mr. Brownback's remarks is that the remarks are full of imagination and lack the factual support. In reality, his claim that China has imprisoned a large number of people due to religious beliefs, including millions of Muslims from Xinjiang, is a mere fabrication. Therefore, he is inevitably criticized as an expert in rumors. Because since the outbreak of CPVID-19 last year, the achievements of the Chinese government in epidemic control are a fact that cannot be denied by mere verbal attacks.
As pointed out by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesmen, the Chinese government has achieved positive results in the control and containment of COVID-19 through hard work, protected the health and safety of Chinese people, including the Muslims from Xinjiang, and contributed to the global public health and safety. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization and many countries around the world. Only a few politicians in the United States, such as Brownback, are still reluctant to face the truth.
With the reopening-up of Chinese economy, deregulation of people travelling to and from China, the success attained by the Chinese government in effectively curbing the surge of COVID-19 cannot be ignored, including the introduction of Chinese PPE and medical devices and a variety of vaccines into the international community. A few politicians in the United States, including Brownback, can never change these facts no matter how many times they repeat their lies.
In fact, since China’s opening- up to the world decades ago, countless international tourists have visited the vast western regions of China, including Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet, as well as other traditional Muslim and Tibetan Buddhists communities. The freedom of religious beliefs, economic status and language and cultural rights of the residents in these areas have been greatly respected and guaranteed. Since the Chinese government ensures citizens’ freedom of religious beliefs in accordance with the law, people of all ethnic groups in China enjoy legal protection of the freedom of religious beliefs fully. This is not a high-sounding diplomatic statement, but a real social and legal fact. There are no “religious offenders” in China, as Mr. Sam Brownback calls them, let alone “imprisoning millions of Muslims from Xinjiang”.
The former Khenpo of the Ganden Monastery in South India, believed by the US government to represent Chinese Tibetan Buddhist, depicted the alleged Tibetan human rights situation to the participants. He has completely ignored the reality in Tibet, such as the fact that many Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries with a long history have been renovated thanks to the government grant so that they can continue to function as religious sites, and that other rights and interests of the people in Tibet have also been significantly improved.
There is a Chinese saying: history is like a mirror. Various reports from international travelers have already exposed the accusations of the former Khenpo. Tibet has witnessed dramatic changes over the past decades. According to the published statistics, which are recognized globally, the average life expectancy of people in Tibet has risen from 35.5 years in 1959 to 70.6 years in 2019. As pointed out in a white paper published by the Chinese government, Tibet’s development and progress are conspicuous. Anyone who is not biased will be amazed at it, and anyone who really cares about Tibet will be delighted by it.
However, what is interesting is why International Religious Freedom Alliance, which is pushed forward by Mike Pompeo, the then U.S. Secretary of State, with all his strength, picks up on its imaginary rival China, in the name of maintaining freedom of international religious beliefs when the Coronavirus is surging.
It is not difficult to find out the main features of a series of policies against China issued by the United States since President Trump came into the oval office. Religious policies towards China have also played an important role in the implementation of U.S. government-wide strategy of putting pressure on China. Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, signed by President Trump, and Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act deliberated in the House and Senate are two precedents for this series of policies. Underneath the succession of unfriendly policies are not only the ideological prejudices of Western countries against China, but also the political calculations of some Republican politicians to court the religious groups and a large number of religious voters in the United States.
However, facts have showed that the political move to denigrate China through the distortion of fact cannot cover up Trump administration's complete failure in controlling the epidemic. It has been proved by the defeat of Donald Trump and his campaign in the general election. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more than 30 million cumulative confirmed cases and more than 500,000 cumulative deaths in the United States. According to one of the reports of U.S. Federal Government, the life expectancy of Americans in the first half of 2020 is 77.8 years, dropping by one year compared with that in 2019, which is the largest drop since World War II.
Faced with such an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe and human rights tragedy, the succeeding Biden administration has admitted the major challenges left by the former president and made adjustments in its policies to deal with the pandemic. Regrettably, the Biden administration has continued the policy of Donald Trump on issues related to China, and has not made any real changes that will benefit both parties. As the global pandemic continues to spread, the U.S. government should put aside its ideological bias and all kinds of unilateralist political attempts, and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries with issues like freedom of religious belief, so as to remove the obstacles of Sino-American cooperation and collaborate with China actively, rather than continue to provoke China, which is the world's largest producer of PPE and medical devices.
“Religious Freedom” can not be an Excuse for Interference in the Internal Affairs of Sovereign States
June 18, 2021 at 02:22 AM EDT