Taiwan Leader Honors U.S. Advocates Sanctioned by China
The president of the Taiwan Legislature, Speaker You Si-kun, recently visited the United States. As an essential part of Speaker You’s trip, he held a private reception to deliver a prestigious award to individuals who took a bold stand for human rights and religious liberty in China. Taiwanese leaders know better than most the importance of standing up to one of the world’s top human rights violators. The island country stands as a bulwark of freedom in the shadow of communist China.
At the reception, Speaker You recognized specific individuals who have been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). One of the individuals who received the award was Family Research Council President, and former Chair of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Tony Perkins. According to Speaker You, only 60 Americans have been sanctioned by China, part of a total of just 102 individuals around the globe. Speaker You, who was also sanctioned by China himself, said it was a “badge of honor” to be sanctioned by the CCP and hoped to start a fellowship of those sanctioned.
While many countries, including the United States, will place sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for serious human rights abuses, China places sanctions on foreign individuals who advocate for human rights. The contrast could not be more stark. By using sanctions, the CCP hopes that foreign individuals who are critical of the CCP’s human rights violations will go silent.
In 2021, alongside Perkins, the Chinese government also placed sanctions on USCIRF Commissioners Nadine Maenza, Nury Turkel, Anurima Bhargava, and James W. Carr. The CCP also sanctioned the stalwart international human rights advocate Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, and Human Rights Watch China Director Dr. Sophie Richardson.
Chinese citizens have no freedom of speech. For the CCP, suppressing speech within its borders is not enough — it also attempts to affect public discourse about the CCP in other countries via sanctions. But sanctioned Americans are not intimidated. After Senator Cruz was sanctioned by China, he released a statement calling out “their egregious human rights atrocities against the Uyghurs & other minorities.” Upon learning that he had been sanctioned, USCIRF Commissioner Turkel similarly stated, “The U.S. government should not back down on supporting human rights and religious freedom for all in China, and neither will USCIRF, as we stand together in unity on this important issue.”
The award that Speaker You presented last week to those who had been sanctioned by China included a medal and a special work of calligraphy entitled “Democracy Victorious.” The award is an expression of gratitude to the small group of American leaders who relentlessly held China to account for their religious freedom and human rights abuses.
In China today, Christians are intimidated and harassed by authorities while the government attempts to “re-write” the Bible. Uyghur Muslims face arbitrary detention, forced labor, and even torture. Ample evidence reveals that Falun Gong adherents and others endure brutal organ harvesting.
Conditions for religious freedom and human rights in China are some of the worst in the world. When one of the most evil regimes on earth singles someone out to be sanctioned because they spoke out against it, that person deserves an award. It is critical that those outside of China continue to champion human rights and religious freedom on behalf of those under the CCP’s thumb who cannot advocate for themselves. Last week, Speaker You said, “For democracy to be victorious, there must be the U.S.” That statement is a sober reminder of the role Americans can play in advancing human rights and religious freedom in China by simply speaking out.
Campbell Alexander is an intern with the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council.