A federal agency that monitors worldwide religious freedom has rebuked American companies for continuing to trade with China despite the nation’s glaring violations of religious and human rights.
“The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom strongly condemns U.S. corporations for continuing to conduct business in China while ignoring the country’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang (Province) — including mass extralegal detention, forced labor and sexual violence — and egregious religious freedom violations against Uyghur and other Muslims, underground Catholics, house church protestants, Falun Gong practitioners, and many others.”
“The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom strongly condemns U.S. corporations for continuing to conduct business in China while ignoring the country’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity.”
That quote is from a statement released by USCIRF shortly after President Joe Biden’s Nov. 15 meeting with Chinese President Ji Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco.
“The two leaders held a candid and constructive discussion on a range of bilateral and global issues including areas of potential cooperation and exchanged views on areas of difference,” according to a White House summary of the meeting.
The president emphazed the universality of human rights and the imperative of all countries to respect and defend those rights, the White House said. Biden also raised objections to China’s violation of human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and other regions.
The areas of cooperation discussed by the leaders included combating drug and human trafficking, addressing climate issues, resuming high-level military talks and exploring expanded commercial and financial relations between the two nations, the White House said.
But USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel advised American companies to steer clear of China: “The U.S. business community must never put its faith in a ruthless communist regime which violates international law and its own law, while actively engaging in systematic, ongoing and egregious religious freedom violations and other atrocious human rights abuses.”
Doing business in China makes corporations complicit in the regime’s brutal practices, he added.
“Instead of a standing ovation for a dictator, U.S. companies should comply with U.S. laws — including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act — and work with the U.S. government to carry out human rights due diligence and to ensure their operations in China and here in the United States do not contribute to more human rights abuses,” Turkel said.
USCIRF extended its condemnation to U.S. lobbying firms that assist Chinese firms and other clients sanctioned by the federal government in connection with human rights violations.
“The Biden administration and Congress must ban unscrupulous lobbying by U.S. firms that represent the interests of the Chinese government and its state-owned companies, the very entities responsible for the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and religious freedom violations throughout China,” USCIRF Commissioner Frank Wolf said. “Furthermore, the U.S. government must work closely with international partners to ensure critical technologies do not get exported to China to be used for human rights abuses.”
In an October op-ed in The Hill, USCIRF explained Chinese lobbying efforts in Congress constitute “a particularly insidious form of influence” because they are designed to shape laws and policies emanating from Capitol Hill.
“China’s state-owned and private companies with ties to its government hire American lobbyists to represent the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) interest on Capitol Hill — including former members of Congress and other U.S. government officials, from both Democratic and Republican parties,” the op-ed states.
USCIRF did not identify American corporations by name in its subsequent statement condemning businesses, but the U.S.-China Business Council, which co-hosted an event during the Asia-Pacific summit in California, identified Apple, Nike, Boeing, Bank of America and Walmart among its many member companies.
In its 2023 report on China, USCIRF urged the U.S. State Department to redesignate the communist nation as a Country of Particular Concern for its ongoing and systematic violations of religious freedom. It also called for the continuation of sanctions aimed at Chinese leaders and institutions responsible for religious liberty violations.
China “has long repressed religious freedom and in recent years has become increasingly hostile toward religion, implementing campaigns to ‘Sinicize’ Islam, Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity to remove alleged ‘foreign influences,’” the report says.