Guarantee Religious Freedom to Build Trust in Taiwan, US Advises China

Religious freedom.

Tolerating religions in the mainland could be a step toward reunification between China and Taiwan. (Image: Screenshot YouTube)

In recent months, China has been increasingly asserting its desire to unify Taiwan with the mainland. Chinese President Xi Jinping also commented that he would ensure the people of Taiwan retain their freedom under the “one country, two systems” policy after unification. However, the Taiwanese have little trust in Beijing since the Chinese regime uses violent means to suppress freedom of expression among citizens. The U.S. ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, has put forward a non-violent way for Beijing to build trust with Taiwan — start tolerating religions in the mainland.

Religious freedom

“If they want to build some confidence in Taiwan, they should give religious freedom to their own people… If they would give religious freedom to their own people, that would be noticeable,” Brownback said in a statement (Reuters).

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

Amid threats from China, many Taiwanese see Brownback’s visit as an indication of Trump’s support for the island nation. The U.S. continues to be Taiwan’s biggest arms supplier and ally. Though the United States officially switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, it has always stood with the Taiwanese people’s desire to keep the island democratic.

During his 3-day visit to the country, Brownback also brought attention to the plight of Muslim minorities like Uyghurs and Kazakhs, calling their persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a “horrific situation.”  He called for an independent investigation into the matter and asked for the release of those who have been detained at internment camps.

Brownback also asked for the release of Muslim minorities who have been detained at internment camps.
Brownback also asked for the release of Muslim minorities who have been detained at internment camps. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Brownback also raised the possibility of the U.S. using the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 to punish Beijing’s intolerance toward religious minorities. The act gives the United States the right to impose sanctions and entry bans on individuals identified as having committed human rights violations or having been engaged in acts of corruption. He praised Taiwan’s democracy and religious freedom, contrasting it with China’s repressive regime.

Meanwhile, David Homer, Pastor of the Grace Church in Taiwan, highlighted that several Chinese Christians had been traveling to Taiwan for the past several years to go to Christian conferences and attend seminaries. However, after China tightened restrictions on religion last year, many teacher exchange programs were canceled. He believes that a conflict with China is inevitable given how impatient Beijing is becoming.

“Threats from China are growing more strident… In forty years of ministry, I have become familiar with the total depravity of the unregenerate human heart, and that is an undeniable characteristic of modern China and its growth pattern… [This is] evident in how they are ignoring their promises to the people of Hong Kong. It is evident in their increasingly intimidating bully tactics,” he said to Evangelical Focus.

Rising persecution

China’s new laws on religions came into effect in February last year and are designed to “curb extremism.” The laws explicitly ban people from going abroad for religious meetings or training, seeking to prevent “unauthorized teaching” about faith.

China's new laws explicitly ban people from going abroad for religious meetings or training.
China’s new laws explicitly ban people from going abroad for religious meetings or training. (Image: via Pixabay)

“Authorities retain control over religious bodies’ personnel appointments, publications, finances, and seminary applications. The government classifies many religious groups outside its control as ‘evil cults,’ and subjects members to police harassment, torture, arbitrary detention, and imprisonment,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Of late, Beijing has ramped up its efforts to Sinicize religions like Islam and Christianity. Plans have been put in place to replace certain core beliefs in these religions with communist-approved ideas, essentially robbing the faiths of their spiritual foundations. Last year, Beijing was successful in getting the Vatican to recognize its right to appoint bishops in the Church, thereby giving the CCP power to ensure that only those who are loyal to the Party hold important posts in the official Chinese Church.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Kenneth Roth.

While Hong Kong Authorities Refuse Entry to Human Rights Watch, China Drafts New ‘Rights’

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), a U.S.-based rights organization, was denied ...

Hong Kong protests.

American Photographer Banned From Hong Kong for Covering Protests

Matthew Connors is a professor of photography from the U.S. who visited Hong Kong and ...

Hong Kong artist Yang Licai.

Supporting Hong Kong: PEN America Condemns Arrest of Chinese Artist

In December, the Chinese regime arrested artist Yang Licai for his online support of the ...

A submerged Buddha statue.

Buddha Statues, Ancient Towns, and Churches Emerge as Water Levels Drop

As the Earth moves through its phases, land masses keep rising to the ocean’s surface ...

Young woman smiling as she looks down at a butterfly.

What Is the Ultimate Purpose of Reincarnation?

Many cases of reincarnation have been relayed by people from both Eastern and Western countries. ...

Apples hanging on trees.

4 Apple Recipes to Turn Anyone Into a Pro

Baking with apples is usually challenging for first-timers which is why not many beginners do ...

Cardboard cutouts shaped like people stand on a table with a bright light behind them.

7 Boundaries That Will Help Sustain Lifelong Relationships

As human beings, we must keep a “bottom line” or set some kind of boundaries ...

Lauren Tischendorf swimming around Lord Howe Island.

Lauren Tischendorf: First Woman to Swim Shark-Infested Waters Around Lord Howe Island

The past decade has seen long-distance women swimmers achieve extraordinary feats. For example, Lauren Tischendorf ...

Deaf restaurant staff.

Deaf-Owned Restaurants and How They Speak the Language of Good Food

Deaf-owned restaurants are challenging the status quo and proving that you don’t need audible words ...

Send this to a friend