As the U.S. negotiates a trade deal with China, the second largest economy on the globe, reports have revealed the communist country is detaining somewhere around 1 million Muslims in the region of Xinjiang.
According to numbers from the Human Rights Watch — which have been echoed by the United Nations and U.S. intelligence — the Chinese government is holding roughly 1 million people in “political education” camps.
China has been using a mobile phone app developed by the government, Face++, to spy on its citizens, particularly Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, according to a report from The Intercept. Relatedly, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter is facing scrutiny because his company, Bohai Harvest RST, invested in the app.
While the Trump administration has been disinclined to put sanctions in place, because of a pending trade deal, which the president said has the potential to be “the biggest deal ever made,” a bipartisan group of lawmakers have urged both the State Department and the Treasury Department to put restrictions on China over the government’s treatment of Muslims.
Randall Schriver, who leads Asia policy at the Defense Department, said last week, according to Reuters, the number of detained Muslims could be “closer to 3 million,” adding, “The [Chinese] Communist Party is using the security forces for mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps.”
In a press release, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said, “Words alone are not enough,” encouraging the White House to pursue sanctions against China.
What’s happening in the “political education” camps?
Until last fall, the Chinese government had been falsely claiming the “political education” camps were really just opportunities for Uighur Muslims to receive “free” education and job training intended to counter the spread of terrorism.
A report from the Agence France-Presse, however, revealed there are thousands of guards patrolling the camps — which are really detention centers — outfitted with Tasers, spiked clubs, and tear gas to keep close control of the “students” held in facilities ringed with razor wire and infrared cameras.
In addition, documents showed the Chinese authorities overseeing the so-called camps had made some disturbing purchases: 2,768 police batons, 550 electric cattle prods, 1,367 pairs of handcuffs, and 2,792 cans of pepper spray.
While this is certainly an escalation of persecution, mistreatment and abuse of religious minorities is not a new phenomenon in China. Along with Muslims, the communist government has been doing it to Christians for many years.
In recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime has been cracking down on Christian churches whose members refuse to come under the control of the government. Xi sees Christianity as a threat from the West and something he said in 2016 his government “must resolutely guard against.”
Last month, Chinese authorities stormed into a Christian church, where they looted the donations box and detained the congregation’s senior pastor. Hoping to prevent the impending raid, which ultimately involved around 60 SWAT vehicles, dozens of church members attempted to protect the place of worship.
The government officials, once inside, removed all the surveillance cameras inside the church and ruthlessly beat the churchgoers.
Furthermore, children and adults are quite commonly asked to renounce their faith by claiming they follow “no religion.”
There are near countless examples of religious discrimination and persecution in China. And the concentration camps for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang is just the latest proof Xi’s regime is no respecter of persons or religions. No people are safe.
Please continue to pray for those facing persecution in China.