“There has never been a president who has been tougher (but fair) on China or Russia,” President Donald Trump tweeted on Dec. 21, 2018.

President Trump has made a promise that he will go tougher on China than past administrations. Starting with imposing tariffs in response to China’s abusive trade practices and preventing unfair transfer of U.S. technologies and intellectual properties, to further isolating China by pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and creating the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) with a clause aimed at China (the countries have to notify each other if they enter into trade talks with a “nonmarket” economy). The president has been proving that he is willing to go further— the extra mile—when it comes to China.

“They’ve never seen an American president this tough before,” national security adviser John Bolton said in an interview on the  “Hugh Hewitt Show,” published on Oct. 12, 2018. “I think their behavior needs to be adjusted in the trade area, in the international, military, and political areas, [and] in a whole range of areas.”

While China is “confused” by Trump, as described by Bolton on the “Hugh Hewitt Show,” activists are expecting the 45th president to act on another issue related to China: human rights, including religious freedom.

President Donald J. Trump with Vice President Mike Pence and invited religious leaders, shows his signature on an executive order creating the establishment of a White House faith and opportunity initiative, during the National Day of Prayer Event in the Rose Garden at the White House, on May 3, 2018, in Washington. (D. Myles Cullen/ Official white House Photo)

Some U.S. lawmakers expect President Trump to directly address Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping on the regimes, human rights abuses, including the regime’s crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs. “I hope so, I hope he not only mentions it, I hope he pushes it very, very aggressively,” said Rep. Chris Smith, co-chairman of Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said to VOA. “He’s been tough on trade. It’s now time for the president to be very tough on human rights abuse.”

Smith is part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate that introduced legislation to condemn Beijing’s treatment of Muslims, hoping to ultimately punish human rights abusers in China, Politico reported.

The bills urge President Trump’s administration to use measures including economic sanctions to defend Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Muslims have not been the only target of the Chinese Communist Party. The atheist regime has long been repressing the faith of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and practitioners of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

“Disturbing reports have surfaced out of China of late detailing the imprisonment of Christian pastors, Bible burning, and demolishing of Christian churches,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), president pro tempore of the United States Senate, wrote in an editorial “China Must End Its Campaign of Religious Persecution” in Politico Magazine. Grassley added, “The state has long suppressed the freedom of Tibetan Buddhists, as well as those who practice Falun Gong.”

Falun Gong
A group of Falun Gong practitioners perform the sitting meditation in Times Square, New York City, on May 15, 2014. In a resolution in 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives urged the Chinese Communist Party to stop its persecution of Falun Gong. (Minghui.org)

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) blasts critics of its human rights record and religious crackdowns. The CCP ignored H.Res.343, a resolution issued by the House in June 2016 “expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from nonconsenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”

Uyghurs, Tibetans, and House Christians are also among those who have been victimized by the transplant abuse, according to the 2016 report “Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update” by David Kilgour, David Matas and Ethan Gutmann, all three Nobel Peace Prize nominees.

Golden Lampstand Church destroyed by Chinese police officers
The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province, one of the largest Protestant evangelical churches in China, was destroyed by Chinese police officers on Jan. 9, 2018. (China Aid, via Associated Press)

In 2018 human rights defenders were concerned about the religious persecution by the Chinese regime. The outlook for 2019 is promising, as President Trump, a strong advocate for religious freedom, and who has been tough on the CCP, has given hope to believers in China.

The Trump administration has expressed its commitment to the issue of religious freedom. Trump tweeted in July 2018: “The U.S. will continue to promote #ReligiousFreedom around the world. Nations that support religious freedom are far more free, prosperous & peaceful.”

Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, wrote in USA Today: “Religious freedom is a God-given right to which all people are entitled. That is why President Donald Trump is taking action to protect religious freedom around the world. It belongs to all people, everywhere.”

In a statement published on the website of the U.S. Embassy and consulates in China last month, Pompeo pointed out China as a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 has engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.”

“The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression. Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump administration,” according to the statement.

In July 2018, Pompeo hosted the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, the first forum participated by “85 like-minded governments and more than 400 civil society organizations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom.”