China Takes Aim at Hong Kong
Faced with worldwide and local frustrations for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, China has made a power move, tightening its control of neighboring Hong Kong, which threatens its “status as one of the world’s most prominent financial hubs.” China’s Communist Party passed a national security law designed to curb protest and dissent. The law went into effect Tuesday night and Hong Kong police wasted no time using it to make arrests.
“Hong Kong right now, for all intents and purposes, is just part of the mainland. There is no high degree of autonomy … this is really just China’s fully absorbing Hong Kong,” noted prominent China expert and author Gordon Chang on Tuesday’s Washington Watch. “Beijing is going to set up a national security office in Hong Kong, which would be for the first time … So, the long arm of China just got a little bit longer.”
The repercussions of the new law are already impacting free speech and the work of pro-democracy efforts.
“Many people have canceled their Twitter accounts because they are afraid of China looking into them,” said Chang. “(W)e are seeing pro-democracy forces actually just sort of try to blend in right now, try to avoid what China’s going to do, because many people do fear something that they call Operation Thunderbolt, which is that immediately upon China taking over Hong Kong, they will start to round up hundreds, maybe even thousands of people and ship them off to mainland courts. I don’t know if China will actually do it, but that has really frightened many people in Hong Kong.”
The U.S. government is already withdrawing special privileges from Hong Kong, such as allowing dual use equipment, products or technology usually used for regular commerce but can be used in military applications. Chang speculated that Chinese banks may lose privileges in the U.S. and visa restrictions could be enacted. And he urged the Trump administration to reconsider the diplomatic status of Chinese officials in the U.S. known to have been engaged in spying here in America.
But given the fact that China is known to force those it doesn’t like into slave labor camps creating cheap goods, it’s also important for the United States business community to reconsider partnering with China.
Chang observed, “(I)t’s up to the Trump administration to change the incentives for big box retailers to favor China over domestic producers. So, there are a lot of parties here that can actually change their behavior. And we’ve got to work on all of them because we are seeing China, this unprecedented attack, not just on Hong Kong or not just on India, but also the United States as well, because we’ve got to remember one hundred and twenty-nine thousand deaths of Americans due to coronavirus.”
In light of so many lives at risk, it’s important that the Trump administration continue to confront this crisis. Ironically, all of this is taking place as big business in the United States is claiming the mantle of social justice while virtually ignoring this entire drama playing out on the world stage. The hypocrisy is striking.
Originally published here.
China Buying Silence on Uyghur Atrocities
According to a recent investigation, the situation for Uyghur Muslims in China has worsened. The latest abuse to be inflicted on this beleaguered religious minority is forced sterilization, abortion, and contraception. The goal is clear: Chinese officials want to reduce the Uyghur population in China by whatever means necessary. The sad reality is that while the rest of the world has been focused on containing the coronavirus, Chinese communists appear to have ramped up the persecution of anyone the government perceives is a threat.
Tuesday, Commissioner Nury Turkel of the Uyghur Human Rights Project appeared on Washington Watch to explain this unfolding story. For those unfamiliar with the Uyghurs and their approach to family life, Turkel likened them to the millions of Americans who believe that families should receive children as a gift from God and who simply want the government to leave them alone. However, these values, grounded in their religious belief, are precisely the reason Chinese Communist Party wants to reduce, if not eliminate the Uyghurs population.
It is stunning to consider, but it is a fact that “forced abortion sterilization was part of the Uyghur life from the beginning,” Turkel told me. While it was known that some Uyghur women in the past have been forced to take contraceptives, the extent of the oppressive persecution of this ethnic group is just now becoming more widely known. This is due in large part to the focus placed on religious freedom in general and the Uyghur population specifically by the Trump administration. The persecution includes the use of “concentration camps” for women who have had too many children, as decided by the Chinese government. Turkel was distraught by the psychological as well as physical harm these women are subject to by the mandates of the communist government. Additionally, it is true that if these women have more children than they are allowed, their children are taken from them. The goal of the Chinese Communist Party, as Turkel explained, is to “eradicate an entire ethnic group and the world is watching.”
The situation of the Uyghurs in China is not a new matter, Turkel pointed out sadly, but it is a worsening one. “I grew up watching how brutal the communist regime has been to my people or the others in the last two years,” Turkel explained, who was born in captivity with his mother, and spent time at a re-education camp during the Cultural Revolution. Turkel outlined his grievance that the “Chinese government has been using its diplomatic and economic influence around the world to buy out silence from countries, particularly in Europe.” Upset with the silence of countries in Europe, Turkel applauded the degree to which the “Trump administration has been forceful” regarding the plight of the Uyghur people. Turkel urgently called upon America’s other allies to “get on the right side of history,” and not to subscribe to or even stay silent about Communist China which is “committing genocide in daylight.”
When asked about what else Christians in America need to be aware of, Turkel pointed out that the Chinese Communist Party has another community on its radar: Chinese Christians. The Chinese Communist Party “perceives that Christians and Muslims in China have a loyal group of people that threatens the Communist Party’s existence,” Turkel explained. As a result of the perceived threat posed by religion, Chinese officials have grown more hostile to religious denominations and groups that challenge their claims of complete and total authority. Thus, the persecution of Christians and total lack of disregard for religious liberty by the Chinese government is rampant in China and steadily growing worse.
Though the situation for the Uyghurs and Christians in China is hostile, we should not give up. The way forward is to continue spotlighting these flagrant abuses of religious freedom and international human rights laws and demand the rest of the world hold China accountable. By doing this, we stand in solidarity with freedom loving people in China as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Originally published here.
The Blaine Truth on Espinoza v. Montana
After an eleven-year legal battle, Montana may resume its policy of providing equal financial opportunity to students who want to attend secular or religious schools. This is a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana, where a 5-4 majority ruled that the Montana Department of Revenue policy which prevented students from receiving state scholarships unless they attended a secular school violated the First Amendment.
Specifically, the court ruled that the Free Exercise Clause, which applies to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment, “protects religious observers against unequal treatment” and against “laws that impose special disabilities on the basis of religious status.” By discriminating against religious schools, the Department of Revenue violated the First Amendment, and the court’s decision now means Montana parents can send their children to religious schools with money received from state scholarships.
Importantly, Espinoza v. Montana does not merely apply to Montana families. This ruling has far reaching implications for religious freedom for the rest of the country. In fact, because of the Supreme Court’s decision, historically problematic “Blaine amendments” may soon be relegated to the dustbin of history. The first “Blaine amendment,” named after Congressman James Blaine, was introduced as an amendment to the United States Constitution in 1875. With America’s changing religious composition, Blaine’s goal was to add specific language to the Constitution that would prevent public funds from being provided to religiously affiliated schools. It seems apparent from the known historical evidence that Blaine’s proposal was aimed at the Catholic church. Despite its defeat on a federal level, at least thirty-seven states adopted the Blaine Amendment into their state constitution.
With this historical context in view, Jeff Lazloffy, President of the Montana Family Foundation, joined me on Washington Watch to explain the significant of the Supreme Court’s decision. As Lazloffy explained, “This was an 11-year battle for us. And not only will the decision benefit Montana students, but the court ruled so broadly that we can strike religiously discriminatory language from the constitutions in thirty-seven states.”
Regarding the specifics of this case, tax-credits given to Montanans were used to provide the scholarships. Citizens have the option of contributing to a scholarship fund. If they choose to do so, they are able to receive a tax-credit for the contribution. As Lazloffy told me, this scholarship program was written “specifically to skirt Blaine because the court had already ruled in a similar case out of Arizona that tax credit scholarships were not public dollars because the money had never transferred to the public side. So, there was no Blaine implication. And so that’s the reason that we did a tax credit scholarship bill rather than a voucher or something, something else.”
Prior to this weeks’ decision, Montana’s Supreme Court ruled against the provision of the public scholarship to religiously affiliated schools. In their decision, they specifically cited the state’s Blaine amendment. Consequently, the United States Supreme Court took up the case and ultimately ruled against the Blaine amendment and the Montana Department of Revenue’s policy. Hence, Lazloffy says, “And that’s what set up this this perfect challenge to Blaine amendments across the United States.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.