When Pastor Bob Fu left town to speak at a prayer event in Washington D.C. last weekend, protestors took the opportunity to intimidate his wife and kids. The incident shook the family, and it is a reminder that those who speak out against China's human rights violations do so at significant cost to themselves.
The incident followed multiple threats by a Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, also known as Miles Kwok. He has recently used his large Chinese-language social media following to incite and encourage violence against leading critics against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including human rights activists. Prominent on Guo's hit list in Bob Fu, an influential advocate for religious freedom in China.
In videos posted online, Guo openly called for his followers to physically attack Fu, who he calls a "fake pastor." So, it was not a total surprise when several individuals showed up outside of Fu's home to intimidate his family. The family is now being protected by law enforcement.
Bob Fu has a long history of defending human rights in China. He was a student leader in the Tiananmen Square protests. Later, he went on to pastor a house church in China, for which he and his wife, Heidi, each spent two months in prison. In 1997, they were exiled to the United States. Bob founded ChinaAid in 2002 to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China. Today, he also serves as a Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom at Family Research Council.
Bob Fu has clearly gotten under someone's skin—he, and other human rights advocates like him, are no stranger to intimidation, most often from the Chinese government. Even fleeing to America does not always protect you from the wrath of the CCP.
In 2018, Uyghur-American Rushan Abbas spoke on a panel at a Hudson Institute event on human rights in China. Just days after the event, Rushan's sister and aunt who still lived in Xinjiang, China were "disappeared" by the Chinese government. Her aunt was soon released, but more than two years later, the Chinese government still refuse to provide any information about the whereabouts or well-being of Rushan's sister.
The arm of the Chinese Communist Party is long. Chinese Americans who speak out against the oppression of the CCP do so not to become famous, but to promote a better existence for those who remain in China.
Speaking out against the world's most powerful authoritarian regime often comes at a cost. When people are threatened and harassed simply for promoting human rights, we must stand with them and defend them.
Meanwhile, concern is growing over Chinese infiltration into the United States. For years, Confucius Institutes funded by the Chinese government on American college campuses have been known to play a role in China's overseas propaganda initiative. More concerning is the fact that the Chinese government has been caught lobbying local governments in America to pass their preferred resolutions, at times successfully. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the Chinese consulate in New York City is a hub for Chinese espionage.
It is a dire national security concern that the Chinese government is working to infiltrate the United States. In addition to endangering the American way of life, it will make their effort to suppress Chinese dissidents, and anyone else who might stand in their way, much easier.
Ultimately, threats of violence posed to Chinese human rights activists are cowardly and immoral regardless of who makes them. They ought to be strongly opposed wherever they arise. Family Research Council stands in support of Bob Fu, and defenders of human rights everywhere fighting for a better future for the Chinese people.