Washington, D.C. — United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2023 Annual Report on Monday and the report stated," Chinese government’s control and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism intensified. Authorities restricted Tibetans’ access to religious sites, banned religious gatherings, destroyed sites and symbols of religious significance, and subjected Tibetan monks and nuns to political indoctrination, including at “re-education centers.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2023 Annual Report on Monday, May 1, 2023, documenting developments in 2022, including significant regression in countries such as Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua and Russia. The 98-page 2023 report lists China as a "country of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
The USCIRF’s 2023 Annual Report stated, “In 2022, religious freedom conditions in China further deteriorated. The government continued to vigorously implement its “sinicization of religion” policy and demand that religious groups support the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rule and ideology. The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), and state- controlled religious organizations are integral in implementing this coercive policy.”
“Although China officially recognizes Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism, and Taoism, groups with perceived foreign connections—such as Uyghurs and other Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, underground Catholics, and house church Protestants—are especially vulnerable to persecution,” the report added.
The USCIRF’s Report stated, “Government control and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism intensified. Authorities restricted Tibetans’ access to religious sites, banned religious gatherings, destroyed sites and symbols of religious significance, and subjected Tibetan monks and nuns to political indoctrination, including at “re-education centers.” Authorities reportedly tortured Tibetan monks in prison, including Rinchen Tsultrim and Sherab Gyatso, who suffer from poor health, and they detained Tibetans for religious activities honoring the Dalai Lama or possessing his portraits.”
“The Chinese government repeatedly stated its intent to interfere in the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation, claiming it has the ultimate authority to appoint his successor. In 2022, at least three Tibetans self-immolated, protesting the government’s policies in Tibet. Moreover, authorities reportedly conducted mass DNA collection in Tibet, likely to strengthen surveillance and control there,” the report added.
The USCIRF’s recommendations to the U.S. government on China:
■Redesignate China as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA);
■Adopt a whole-of-government approach by elevating and integrating religious freedom as a key strategic objective in U.S. foreign policy toward China and by raising religious freedom concerns in all bilateral dialogues and engagement;
■Continue imposing sanctions to target Chinese officials and entities responsible for severe religious freedom violations, especially within the CCP’s UFWD, SARA, and the public security and state security apparatus; and
■Work with like-minded countries in international fora, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), to collectively hold the Chinese government accountable for severe religious freedom violations, including by creating a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate and identify perpetrators of ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and document other severe human rights abuses throughout China.
The U.S. Congress should:
■Support legislation to counter the CCP’s malign influence in the United States, particularly its lobbying efforts that undermine religious freedom and related human rights.