Flattered to Be on China's Sanctions List

Gayle Manchin is Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Tony Perkins is Vice Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on April 11, 2021. 

We’ll keep exposing Beijing’s egregious religious-freedom violations in Xinjiang.

The Chinese Communist Party recently imposed sanctions against us for our work on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. It’s part of a desperate attempt to silence international scrutiny of Beijing’s abysmal human-rights record, particularly its genocidal policies against the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and its persecution of other religious minorities.

We won’t be intimidated or silenced. We appreciate Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s support, and we are proud that USCIRF has long been at the forefront in exposing the Communist Party’s egregious religious-freedom violations. In fact, we’re flattered by the Chinese government’s recognition for our work in defending religious freedom in China, as we join an increasing list of courageous American, European and other officials on whom the party has likewise applied sanctions for standing up to a regime that has violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s threats gave us a glimpse into the state-led oppression under which so many Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and others are forced to live.

Given the Communist Party’s oppression at home and increasing aggression abroad, we must continue to stand with our partners to expose, condemn and hold the Chinese government accountable. Beijing’s belligerent rhetoric and actions demonstrate that international criticism and scrutiny of its human-rights record are effective. Genocide and crimes against humanity are deeply damaging to China’s image and undermine its ambition to project itself as a global power.

The Communist’s Party’s hostile actions are also counterproductive. They’re helping solidify a coalition of governments to counter such aggression. In this regard, this international coalition should take several immediate actions. Congress should pass the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which creates a “rebuttable presumption” that bans all goods exported from Xinjiang. The U.S. government and like-minded partners should continue to impose targeted sanctions on Chinese agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom and human rights.

The U.S. should also urge international partners to investigate independently and determine formally whether the Chinese Communist Party’s abusive policies in Xinjiang amount to genocide and crimes against humanity, as well as supporting an impartial international investigation of the question. We should also explore ways to press the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympics away from Beijing, since attendance could play into the party’s propaganda and be seen as an endorsement of the regime and its policies.

The broader international community and global businesses must decide between good and evil. It is unconscionable to condone or, even worse, to aid and abet the Chinese Communist Party as it commits a 21st-century genocide.