Washington: A bipartisan group of 18 powerful American lawmakers has condemned China's alleged persecution of religious minorities and actions to limit free expression and practice of faith.
"The persecution of religious minorities at the hands of some Chinese government officials is wrong and must stop," Senator Chuck Grassley said Friday.
"People, no matter where they live, should be able to freely express their religious beliefs. As we work with China on issues of trade and intellectual property, we need to also make fighting for religious liberty a central part of the United States' relationship with China," he said.
Senator David Perdue alleged that the Chinese Communist Party continues to engage in a violent crackdown on religion, employing tactics
reminiscent of Mao's Cultural Revolution.
"From burning Bibles and demolishing Christian churches to the mass internment of hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims, the Chinese government is inflicting terror on its own people. The United States must condemn these egregious human rights abuses," he said.
A resolution moved in this regard in the Senate condemns violence against religious minorities in China and actions that limit free expression and practice of faith.
Reaffirming America's commitment to promote religious freedom and tolerance around the world; the resolution calls on China to uphold its Constitution in addition to internationally recognised human right of freedom from religious persecution and to end violence and discrimination against religious minorities.
The resolution urges President Trump to take appropriate actions to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in China, using the powers provided to the President under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, and the Global Magnitsky Act.
Senator Ted Cruz alleged that the Chinese Communist Party is persecuting millions of its own people because it fears religion.
"It cannot abide an authority higher than the Party. Christians, Uighurs, Falun Gong practitioners, and many others live under threat of imprisonment, torture, and death. America must always stand for the free exercise of religion and I am proud to join Sen. Perdue and my colleagues in this effort," he said.
Meanwhile, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Gary Bauer, in a statement, echoed Trump administration's condemnation of widespread religious freedom abuses in China as he announced his "adoption" of imprisoned Christian church leader Hu Shigen.
Hu, a religious freedom advocate who had suffered torture during a previous 16-year prison sentence for human rights advocacy, was detained again in 2015 and sentenced in 2016 to a 7.5-year sentence for "subversion of government power".
The USCIRF said it also remains concerned by the many unresolved issues, including the reported forced disappearances of Catholic clergy, that remain following the agreement in late September between Beijing and the Vatican.
"Religious persecution is unacceptable ? and should be condemned ? in of its all forms. China must address their dismal human rights record and its brutal treatment of religious minorities, including Uighur Muslims and Christians," said Senator Van Hollen.