USCIRF Condemns the Chinese Government’s Additional Sanctions on USCIRF Commissioners

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the Chinese government’s additional sanctions against USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza, Vice Chair Nury Turkel, and Commissioners Anurima Bhargava and James W. Carr. Earlier in the year, the Chinese government had also sanctioned USCIRF Commissioner Tony Perkins in addition to former USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin and Commissioner Johnnie Moore.

We are not surprised to see the Chinese government impose additional baseless sanctions in response to growing concern over its egregious human rights and religious freedom violations, especially its genocidal policies against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. As we have said before—USCIRF will not be silenced,” stated USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza. “The Chinese government needs to end its state-led oppression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and others, rather than implementing misguided sanctions.”

USCIRF has consistently highlighted the Chinese government’s religious freedom violations. This month, USCIRF applauded President Joseph R. Biden for implementing a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics given the Chinese government’s ongoing atrocities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and other human rights abuses. USCIRF had recommended this action in  its 2020 and 2021 Annual Reports.

USCIRF also commends the U.S. House and Senate for passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 6252), and urges President Biden to swiftly sign the bill into law. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act creates a “rebuttable presumption” that all goods and products from the XUAR are made with forced labor and bans their import, unless the U.S. Customs and Border Protection certifies by “clear and convincing evidence” that forced labor was not involved. The law requires the imposition of financial and visa sanctions on foreign persons, including Chinese officials, who are found to have engaged in, be responsible for, or facilitated forced labor in the XUAR.

The Chinese government’s so-called sanctions are an act of desperation because the international community is standing up against its genocidal policies,” USCIRF Vice Chair Nury Turkel stated. “Genocide and crimes against humanity in China are not simply ‘internal affairs,’ the Chinese Communist Party’s frequent excuse to deflect responsibility. As a state party to the Genocide Convention, and members of the United Nations Security Council and Human Rights Council, China must be held to its commitment to international law and universal human rights standards. The U.S. government should not back down on supporting human rights and religious freedom for all in China, and neither will USCIRF, as we stand together in unity on this important issue.”

In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended the U.S. government redesignate China as a “Country of Particular Concern,” or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. In November 2021, the U.S. Department of State redesignated China as a CPC.