The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Friday, May 10, urged the Trump administration to raise concerns over religious freedom violations of the Chinese regime during the visit of its Vice Premier Liu He in Washington this week.

“The communist Chinese government’s brutal campaign to ‘sinicize’ all religions is one of the worst abuses of religious freedom taking place today,” quoted USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer in a press release on Friday. “During these talks about our trade relationship with China, religious persecution and human rights more broadly must be on the table.”

To preserve its atheist ruling in a traditionally religious country like China, the Communist Party conducted various anti-religious campaigns, starting in 1949 when the communists took over the authority. The atheist regime has long been repressing the faith of Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and practitioners of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), an ancient spiritual discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners from various countries do morning exercises at Union Square in Lower Manhattan, New York City, on the Falun Dafa Day, May 13, 2014. (

“This is about the right of every man and woman whether Muslim or Buddhist or Christian or Falun Gong, to worship as he or she sees fit,” Bauer said. “At a time when the lives and freedoms of millions of Chinese people are under attack by their own government, we must put religious freedom and human rights on the agenda, too.”

The recommendation to link human rights, including religious freedom to trade talks recalls a decision made by President Bill Clinton when he separated the issues and granted China the most-favored-nation (MFN) trade benefits in 1993, four years after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre by the Chinese communist regime.

“Then-President Bill Clinton’s fateful decision to disconnect U.S. human rights policy from trade deals in 1993 removed America’s most powerful instrument for producing good in the world,” Greg Autry, the director of the Southern California Commercial Spaceflight Initiative at the University of Southern California, argued on Foreign Policy.

In a state dinner at the White House Oct 29, 1997, President Bill Clinton toasts with Jiang Zemin, leader of China and Head of the Chinese Communist Party, who rose to power after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and launched a nationwide persecution against Falun Gong in 1999. (The Associated Press)

Bringing back human rights to trade negotiations with China is also recommended by David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state for Asia-Pacific and Nobel Peace Prize nominated investigator on Chinese state-sanctioned, forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and other believers.

“Relinking human rights with trade talks, applying the Magnitsky Act to surgeons and others participating in organ abuse, and warning U.S. universities about the risk of training surgeons from China, and so on, would all help,” said Kilgour, according to The Epoch Times.

In its press release on Friday, the independent, bipartisan USCIRF also recommended that the government use targeted sanctions against Chinese officials who have perpetrated or tolerated severe religious freedom violations. The commission suggested the administration coordinate with allies and partners in response to China’s religious freedom violations and “counter Chinese government influence in the United States designed to suppress information about or advocacy in response to violations of religious freedom in China.”

The announcement from the USCIRF came a few days before Falun Dafa Day on May 13, 2019, when thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are expected to gather in New York in the coming week for an annual experience sharing conference, street parade, and exercise performances.

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