China, Hong Kong, Chinese Communist Party discussed on National Secular Society Podcast
You're listening to the National Secular Society podcast hosted by Emma Park. On the first of July this year, the Chinese government pushed through a new security local coke greatly restrict citizen's rights to basic freedoms such as freedom of speech. If you've been following events in China in recent years, this most recent crackdown on civil liberties by ferry authoritarian regime will not have come as a surprise. It follows on from stories at the mass internment of weekend Muslims in Western, China of the persecution of followers of the Dalai Lama in Tibet and of the Macedonians Technology which the Chinese government is using on its own citizens throughout the country. Those who want to follow their religion religious belief independently of stated fairness continue to risk of US acution and the Chinese. Government is doing its best influence. The narrative is as well. But what is actually happening to religious minorities in China? What is the outlook for religious freedom Sharon the future? I'm joined now from Washington DC by Dr Sophie Richardson Soviet Richardson is China director at Human Rights Watch an international nonprofit organization that investigates and reports on human rights abuses around the world safety. The Hong Kong national. Security has just come into force. I imagine this is keeping. You quite occupied at the moment. It's an extraordinary law in that it seems boundless both in the behavior it criminalizes also. The people to whom it applies. It seems to actually have been written to apply even to people outside Hong Kong. And it really gives the authorities of the opportunity to punish all sorts of peaceful criticism or even behavior that's not meant to criticize the Hong Kong or the central government. If you take the law at face value, and you know the language that essentially suggests that any sort of criticism can be construed or deemed as soon. Or indicative of secessionist or terroristic impulses. The wording really is incredibly vague. You know that could include a practicing once face a I. think some of the people who may be targeted under this new law. Are People like Cardinal Zen or other figures from different faith communities who have been critical both of the Hong Kong and central government authorities. The goal of this law in Beijing's mind is to make everyone stop and think twice about any kind of behavior and wonder whether it could be construed as illegal and that will extend. To everything from choosing to run for office. To choosing to. Go to a protest, and presumably choosing to practice your face, says is the idea behind the national security load that it's temp says sufficiently vague that it it just sort of induces of paranoia, said people a just a general. Repression of people's way, they think in the way they act precisely in the forty eight hours before the law went into effect probably bears mentioned that people were not able to see the text of law until it was going into effect. But in the forty eight hours prior to that, you know we were watching all kinds of activists deleting all of their social media accounts withdrawing from political parties, announcing that they had changed their mind about whether to run for office precisely because it's not clear that those behaviors won't be prosecuted under the new walk while. Let's turn to the Chinese Communist Party am an and mainland China, and what's been going on that? Because? Of course, that's the source of this new direction in Hong Kong under the Chinese Constitution is at least on paper, a right to freedom of religion and belief. On paper you are allowed normal religious activities, and of course a great deal depends on what constitutes normal, and historically the authorities have been reasonably tolerant of people who are worshiping in State, sanctioned churches or communities. But anything outside of those is subject to prosecution now in even people who do worship with him. Those states communities have not always been protected by that status. So it again. It's you know it's just another example of how the authorities reserve. This incredibly arbitrary power to shutdown, essentially whoever they don't like whenever they don't lie, but one of the very disturbing pathologies. Under President? Xi Jinping has been pushed to synthesize religion which essentially means making religion more of a tool for the Chinese Communist Party rather than truly respecting. People's rights to believe the Chinese Communist, party has no respect for the idea that that religious freedom and freedom of belief or individually held their for their for people to have were not have not for government to give or take away. At the top of the Chinese Communist Party. What why does it feel threatened by religions? Well I think because the party sees religion has. Not just an alternative ideology, but it's far more concerned about religion as an alternative organizing vehicle. And it is. It is incredibly NEURALGIA that I mean. It's worth pointing out that it's incredibly neuralgic out. Independent civil society groups were in people whose ethnic identities Result in as much of a sense of commonality with for example communities in Central Asia Atas an identity as a citizen of the PR. But I think you know historically religion in particular and ends of. A sense of of adherence to a different set of principles and particularly for faiths whose leaderships are in different parts of the world. You know the idea that people inside China are have a higher loyalty for example to you the Vatican. Is Not something Beijing likes. Show I will let move to the most striking example of Chinese suspicion of religion at the moment, which is creative. The CCP's treatment, the week in Xinjiang, which is in the fall West Pulse of China in Central Asia Now, of course, the week is a distinct historically in terms of culture, religion and ethnicity from the. Han Chinese majority. How did it come up about the day approach of China in the first place well essentially. The PRC says it had a claim to that particular piece of territory, and it was absorbed into the People's Republic. In nineteen, forty, nine I think what many people are say this way. Some people do advocate independence I think what many people would accept or find acceptable. would be kind of genuine autonomy that. Xinjiang and to that and Hong Kong are meant to enjoy. ever enjoyed this autonomy I mean have the restrictions on. It become recent of beginning on since nineteen forty nine. You're absolutely corrected in. John has never really enjoyed autonomy in any meaningful sense. A and in the last several years we have watched.