UCAnews: China to further clamp down on religions: rights group

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of President Xi Jinping is all set to impose more restrictions on religious freedom when the new measures take effect next month, warned a rights group.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs, the top CCP body overseeing religious affairs, announced the new measures on religious affairs on July 31 to be effective from September, ChinaAid reported on Aug. 10.

“The religious freedom of Chinese citizens, including those in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, will face further restrictions,” said the US-based group run by exiled Chinese Christians.

“All religious activities will be limited to official religious venues, and the display of religious symbols will be restricted indoors,” it added.

The new rules–Measures on the Administration of Religious Activity Venues– severely restrain the establishment and registration procedures for venues. But the measures also set forth management rules and stipulations for managing personnel.

The regulations specify the establishment of supervisors for religious activity sites and impose conditional limitations on internal management within these sites.

Though China’s Constitution allows freedom of religion or belief, the CCP has been accused of violating the rights of religious groups for decades, though it recognizes five organized religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.

The state runs seven bodies to oversee the affairs of all recognized religions and impose restrictions on groups that are not registered and whose activities are not pre-approved by the state.

Since Xi became China’s president, religious groups have faced constant crackdowns under several repressive policies and regulations including sinicization of religions and the 2018 Regulations on Religious Affairs.

ChinaAid alleged that the CCP seeks to assert more control over religions by “suffocating” members of underground religious groups and placing official groups under more restrictions.

“This amounts to a complete ban on religious activities, whatever remains must align with the leadership and political propaganda of the CCP,” it warned.

Article 3 of the new measures requires religious activity venues should uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

Those at the activities must uphold the socialist system and adhere to Sinicization. Managing personnel will be expected to implement Xi Jinping Thoughts on Socialism

Article 16 of the Measures states that places of religious activity shall not be named after churches, sects, or persons.

Article 27 stipulates that members of the management organization of venues should possess the qualities of “loving the motherland and supporting the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system.”


SMHRIC: Asia Freedom Institute webinar: “Cultural Genocide under Xi Jinping and the CCP”

August 2, 2023
New York

The Chinese government’s policies towards ethnic and religious minorities have widely been characterized as genocide. Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have launched the second-generation ethnic policy (第二 代 民族 政策) through which the Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other minority non-Chinese communities are experiencing unprecedented suppression and eventual eradication of their language, religious practices, traditions, and independent histories. The end goal is assimilation and sinicization. There are credible and numerous reports of forced labor, mass surveillance, re-education camps, mass collection of DNA, massive colonial boarding school systems, forced sterilizations, increasing restrictions on religious practices, etc. How does the Chinese government policies amount to cultural genocide? What has been the impact on the targeted communities? How can the impacted communities and the international community counter the CCP policies?

Safeguard Defenders: New report: China is threatening Uyghurs in Türkiye to spy on diaspora

The report, Targeted in Türkiye: China’s Transnational Repression Against Uyghurs, used interviews with Uyghurs living in Türkiye to show how Chinese police are using transnational networks involving local Neighbourhood Working Groups in China and mission staff and informants in Türkiye to monitor and manipulate Uyghurs living overseas.

Chinese police leverage intelligence gathered from these networks to coerce Uyghurs into spying for them, keeping quiet about China’s human rights abuses or producing pro-China propaganda. In every case in this study, police used open or veiled threats against family members back home as part of the transnational repression. The findings in this report are consistent with results from other human rights reports focused on Uyghurs living in other countries in addition to Türkiye.


SMHRIC: Herders protest land grab, land-grabbers bulldozed through the protesters

June 15, 2023
New York

On June 12, 2023, Mongolian herders from eastern Southern Mongolia’s Zaruud Banner gathered to block the road near their grazing land in protest of the local government’s land grab. Hired to advance the expropriation, a Chinese driver by the surname of Lu plowed into the protestors with a large bulldozer, crashing herders’ motorcycles, and injuring at least two.

According to protestors on the scene, the Zaruud Banner Breeding Farm Ar-Hundelen Branch appropriated a large swath of grazing land and sold it to a Chinese business—all with the authorization of the Zaruud Banner government.

A written statement from the local community notes that “Without our prior and informed consent, the breeding farm sold our land to a Chinese business at a price of 2,000,000 yuan (approximately 280,000 USD),” and that “the Chinese buyer is now bringing truckloads of cows and other animals to the land, attempting to graze them in disregard of our protest.”

“This happened before the eyes of government officials who are ganging up with violent Chinese invaders,” said an angry herder in a WeChat discussion group, in reference to the bulldozer attack. “The lives of Mongolians are worthless here.”

In a public statement, the Zaruud Banner Public Security Bureau confirmed the case while downplaying the violence as a “dispute that escalated to a conflict between a herder and the bulldozer driver, Mr. Lu, and the accountant Ms. Lu, resulting in an injury to the herder Mr. Wu.”

The next day, another attack took place in eastern Southern Mongolia’s Evenk Banner. A Chinese land-grabber struck a Mongolian herder with a vehicle while the herder defended his grazing land alongside other herders. The injured herder fell unconscious at the scene, but the state of his current health remains unknown.

“Violence by the Chinese toward Mongolians has happened two days in a row,” a Mongolian herder said in a WeChat discussion group. “Now even our lives are not guaranteed, let alone our land.”

Despite draconian censorship and aggressive surveillance of the Internet and social media, Southern Mongolians are managing to express their discontent over WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform. Sparked by these violent incidents, discussions among angry Southern Mongolians have gone far beyond the land-grab episodes and are touching on sensitive, foundational issues, including those of colonialism and national freedom.

“This is the cost we are paying for being colonized by the Chinese,” a Southern Mongolian said in a WeChat discussion.

“Yes, but nothing lasts forever,” another replied. “The days of this colonial regime are numbered. We Mongolians must stay patient, resilient and hopeful.”

In the same chat, another Southern Mongolian asked members to “Imagine if we have our own government and own country like the independent country of Mongolia. This type of violence would never happen, and even if it happens, the perpetrators will be brought to justice immediately.”

Yet another member said that “The squares [code name for Chinese settlers] are the most violent and brutal invaders in human history. They took away all of our rights, plundered our natural resources both under and above the ground; now they are taking away our land and lives.”

“This is no different from the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” said another. “The nature of the two is the same: the strong enslave the weak.”

The perhaps even more politically charged question of whether “Southern Mongolians are slaves to the Chinese” sparked heated debates in a number of WeChat groups. Some excerpts:

“We must admit that we are enslaved by the Chinese. This is the reality. This is our status.”

“I disagree. We are not slaves. We are proud Mongolians. Calling ourselves slaves won’t help improve the situation anyway.”

“Our situation is equally serious, if not more so, than that of Xinjiang and Tibet.”

“Remember, land appropriation is just a small part of the systematic destruction of Southern Mongolia; our language and culture are being wiped out by the Chinese now.”

As Chinese policies in Southern Mongolia grow increasingly oppressive, widespread discontent among Southern Mongolians has led to two major uprisings since 2011.

In May 2011, a region-wide uprising was precipitated by the brutal killing of a Mongolian herder, Mr. Mergen, by a Chinese truck driver. These protests prompted Chinese authorities to launch an extensive crackdown on all forms of resistance across the region.

In September 2020, an even a larger uprising transpired in Southern Mongolia, in opposition of China’s new language policy, which Mongolians widely consider “cultural genocide.” An overwhelming majority of Southern Mongolians joined the protests in some fashion, and an estimated 8,000-10,000 protesters were arrested, detained, imprisoned and placed under house arrest.


What night-time lighting tells us about Tibet’s prisons and detention centres

Authorities in Tibet are engaging in preventive repression towards their population.
As part of their nationwide ‘stability maintenance’ strategy, they are detaining, persecuting and convicting Tibetans for non-violent forms of protest and other expressions of dissent such as assisting or supporting self-immolations and carrying pictures of the Dalai Lama.

We found that there are currently at least 79 prisons and detention centres throughout Tibet, with most towns and villages having a detention centre.
We began with a publicly available dataset of 83 known detention facilities from the Tibet Research Project (TRP). Using historical satellite imagery of these locations, we developed a coding scheme to classify these facilities by level of securitisation and purpose. We also excluded facilities that did not fit neatly into the mould of a prison or detention centre, leaving 79 known prisons or detention centres for analysis.

Report (pdf)

Noticing Chinese Interfering in US Affairs – Part 3

In continuing with the previous article from Mandiant, we are shown evidence indicating not only news, but in-person protest demonstrations are purported to have also been commissioned by agents of the Chinese Communist Party.

In addition to commissioning campaign support in the dissemination phases of HaiEnergy-attributed operations, we have evidence to suggest the campaign may have also financed at least two staged in-person protests in Washington, D.C. Both protests, which occurred around June and September 2022, were documented via video and subsequently used as source material to support campaign-promoted narratives published by assets and infrastructure leveraged by HaiEnergy.

The first protest we suspect to have been manufactured by the campaign was allegedly in response to the 2022 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit—an annual event held in Washington, D.C. aimed at bringing awareness to restrictions on religious freedom. The second protest appears to have been manufactured in response to a June 2022 decision by the U.S. Government to ban all goods produced in China’s Xinjiang region—a decision which came under the backdrop of continued allegations of human rights abuses against China’s ethnic-minority Uyghur population. In both videos, two small groups of protesters can be observed demonstrating in Washington, D.C., holding placards and chanting slogans intended to highlight U.S. domestic issues, such as racial discrimination and abortion, as well as criticize U.S. policy impacting the import of solar industry-specific components from Xinjiang—a key supplier of cheap critical components used by the solar panel manufacturing industry. As previously alluded to, HaiEnergy subsequently leveraged these videos to bolster campaign messaging.

The videos of these small protest demonstrations were then redistributed through their media network and made to look as though there was a groundswell of support against the ban on goods manufactured by slave labor in Eastern Turkestan (aka Xinjiang.)

For Freedom

Noticing Chinese Interfering in US Affairs – Part 2

From an article by Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm, we are informed of how a PRC public relations firm, Shanghai Haixun Technology Co, Inc. is exploiting US news outlets and social media to spread Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

In August 2022, Mandiant released a public report detailing an ongoing influence campaign leveraging infrastructure attributed to the Chinese public relations (PR) firm Shanghai Haixun Technology Co., Ltd (上海海讯社科技有限公司) (referred to hereafter as “Haixun”). This campaign, which we dubbed “HaiEnergy,” leveraged a network of at least 72 inauthentic news sites—which presented themselves as independent news outlets based in various regions across the world—and a number of suspected inauthentic social media assets to amplify content strategically aligned with the political interests of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

When we released our initial report, we were unable to determine the extent to which Haixun was involved in, or even aware of this campaign, as our visibility was limited to the campaign’s use of infrastructure linked to the company. In recent months, however, we have identified additional evidence suggesting Haixun is not only aware of the campaign but is actively supporting it through the solicitation of for-hire freelancers via Fiverr to promote campaign content.

Additionally, we have identified new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) being employed by HaiEnergy, which includes the use of newswire services to distribute pro-PRC content to subdomains of legitimate U.S.-based news outlets. We also note the possibility the campaign is leveraging less conventional TTPs, citing a specific example in which an ad displaying pro-PRC messaging was possibly placed on a billboard in New York City’s Times Square.

The authors provide examples of how pro-CCP propaganda is distributed and indicate how CCP actors redistribute through social media. (These folks may be different from Wu Mao Dang, but maybe they are double-dipping.)

For Freedom

Noticing Chinese Interfering in US Affairs – Part 1

From the article:

“Darren Fraser at the MidValley Times reported earlier this week that the building has been illegally operated since October 2022 by Wang Zhaolin of Prestige Biotech, and the lab was used to produce COVID-19 tests and pregnancy tests.

City of Reedley officials called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI, the State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the State Department of Health, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH).

“Reedley officials and personnel from CDPH and FCDPH executed a warrant on March 16 to inspect the warehouse at 850 I Street,” MidValley Times reported. “According to a declaration from Humero Prado, Assistant Director of Fresno County Public Health, which was filed in superior court, investigators discovered that one room of the warehouse was used to produce COVID-19 and pregnancy tests. In other rooms, investigators found blood, tissue and other bodily fluid samples. They also found thousands of vials that contained unlabeled fluids.”

And they found 900 genetically engineered mice, engineered to catch and carry COVID-19, living in “inhumane” conditions. 773 of the mice had to be euthanized, and officials found another 178 mice already dead.”

Since all PRC entities are subservient to the Chinese Communist Party, what are we to make of this no-longer-hidden biolab? Are we to assume it is all aboveboard and no nefarious activity occurred or just expect the truth to be released sometime in the future (like the CCP’s spy balloon)?
Are we also to assume the presence of this biolab is the only one and that the Chinese Communist Party has no more in the US or that if there are others, they will be completely benign?

For Freedom

Foreign Policy: How Beijing Forces Uyghurs to Pick Cotton

How Beijing Forces Uyghurs to Pick Cotton
Coercive labor is getting less visible, but more intense.

By Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington.

Beijing has repeatedly claimed that there is “no forced labor” in Xinjiang. But now, as the European Union debates a ban on products made with forced labor, the evidence has just gotten stronger.

My new research on Xinjiang’s cotton production—the first such research published in a peer-reviewed academic journal—shows that coercive labor transfers for seasonal agricultural work such as cotton picking have continued through at least 2022 and remain part of Xinjiang’s official Five-Year Plan for 2021-25. Economic incentives for this practice persist despite partial mechanization: State media reports from 2022 confirm that the premium-grade long staple cotton grown in southern Xinjiang still cannot be harvested by machines.

Labor transfers subject Uyghurs to state-assigned work placements. They often separate them from their families and communities, subjecting them to intensive surveillance, long work hours, and mandatory political indoctrination and Chinese language classes in the evenings.


RFA: UN human rights chief: China has arbitrarily detained Uyghurs, separated families

The U.N.’s new human right chief said his agency has documented China’s arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and the separation of children from their families in comments during a global update on human rights on Wednesday in Geneva.

Volker Türk, who took over last September, said his office has opened up channels of communication with various actors to follow up on human rights issues in China, including the protection of minorities such as Uyghurs, Tibetans and other groups.

“In the Xinjiang region, my office has documented grave concerns, notably large-scale arbitrary detentions and ongoing family separations and has made important recommendations that require concrete follow-up,” he said.

Türk also said his office has concerns about severe restrictions of civic space, including the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and lawyers and the impact of the National Security Law in Hong Kong.

The United Nations and Western governments have remained steadfast in their condemnation of China over its harsh policies affecting Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hongkongers, though Beijing has angrily denied accusations of abuses and continued maintaining an iron grip on them.

Türk’s comments come nearly three weeks after U.N. Commission on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, or CESCR, grilled 40 Chinese delegates about the human rights situations in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, the far-western autonomous region in China where more than 11 million of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur people live.

When asked for explanations about reports of the destruction of Uyghur cultural and religious sites and the mass incarceration of Uyghurs in “re-education” camps, the Chinese delegates responded with denials and assurances that rights were protected.