CONDEMNING THE ESCALATING LEVELS OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA — (House of Representatives – June 12, 2006)

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CONDEMNING THE ESCALATING LEVELS OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA — (House of Representatives – June 12, 2006)[Page: H3734] GPO’s PDF

   Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 608) condemning the escalating levels of religious persecution in the People’s Republic of China, as amended.

   The Clerk read as follows:
   H. Res. 608
   Whereas the Constitution and laws of the People’s Republic of China purport to provide for religious freedom, however, these freedoms are substantively ignored;
   Whereas all religious groups and spiritual movements must register with the Chinese Government, which monitors religious services and judges the legitimacy of religious activities;
   Whereas unregistered religious groups in China continue to experience official interference and members of religious groups have been subjected to intimidation, harassment, and detention;
   Whereas many religious leaders and adherents in China, including those in official churches, have been detained, arrested, or administratively sentenced to prison terms in reeducation-through-labor camps;
   Whereas religious believers are denied the ability to hold public office not by law, but by a logical extension of the fact that most government positions go to members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and CCP membership and religious belief are considered incompatible;
   Whereas numerous abuses of unofficial Catholic clergy have occurred, including the detentions of Bishop Zhao Zhendong, Bishop Jia Zhiguo, Bishop Yao Liang, Bishop Su Zhimin, Bishop An Shuxin, Bishop Lin Xili, Bishop Han Dingxiang, and Bishop Shi Enxiang, as well as other Catholic priests and lay leaders who have been beaten or otherwise mistreated;
   Whereas the Chinese Government-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association of China conducted unauthorized episcopal ordinations of the priests Joseph Ma Yinglin and Joseph Liu Xinhong, elevating them to the office of bishop without the approval and against the wishes of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI;
   Whereas numerous abuses of Protestant House Church Leaders have occurred, including the detentions of Pastor Gong Shengliang, Pastor Zhang Rongliang, Luo Bingyin, Li Cuiling, Wang Chaoyi, Yang Tianlu, and Zhao Xinlan, as well as other Protestant House Church Leaders who have been beaten or otherwise mistreated;
   Whereas the whereabouts of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the boy identified by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama and detained by Chinese authorities ten years ago, when he was six years old, are still unknown;
   Whereas, according to the Department of State, Chinese authorities continue to restrict Muslim religious activity, teaching, and worship in Xinjiang, including reported prohibitions on the participation and religious education of minors;
   Whereas the Chinese Government continues its brutal campaign to eradicate the Falun Gong spiritual movement and thousands of its members have been subject to [Page: H3735] GPO’s PDF
excessive force, abuse, detention, and torture, including Liu Chengjun who died in 2003 after reportedly being abused in custody in Jilin Province and Huang Wei who is currently detained in Hebei Province, among others;

  Whereas Cai Zhuohua, a Beijing underground church leader, was sentenced on November 8, 2005, to three years in prison for distributing Bibles and other Christian materials;
  Whereas the Haidian Lower People’s Court in Beijing also sentenced Mr. Cai’s wife, Xiao Yunfei, to two years in prison and her brother, Xiao Gaowen, to 18 months in prison; and
   Whereas on November 20, 2005, after attending services at the Gangwashi Church in Beijing, President George W. Bush stated: “A healthy society is a society that welcomes all faiths and gives people a chance to express themselves through worship with the Almighty”: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That–

    (1) the House of Representatives condemns the imprisonment of religious leaders and people of faith in the People’s Republic of China and urges their release; and
    (2) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that it should be the policy of the Government of the United States to promote and defend religious freedom and freedom of conscience in China.
   The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) each will control 20 minutes.
   The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey.
   Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
   Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 608 condemning the escalating levels of religious persecution in the People’s Republic of China, and I thank my colleague from Michigan, Mr. McCotter, for authoring this important legislation. I am very proud, along with many of my colleagues, to be a cosponsor of the resolution.
   Despite China’s repression of religion as arguably among the most despotic in the world, despite China’s entrance in the world economy, its government refuses to grant its citizens universally recognized rights to freedom of religion and thought.
   The People’s Republic of China permits religious practice only for government-sanctioned organizations and registered locations of worship. Those who practice other faiths as their consciences demand risk disappearing into one of hundreds of Laogai, the forced education through labor system established by Mao Tse-tung decades ago.
   Not only is religious persecution of numerous groups and movements ongoing, but it is actually worsening. In February, the BBC reported that China had warned Hong Kong’s newly appointed cardinal, Joseph Zen, a well-known critic of China’s suppression of religious freedoms, to remain quiet on political issues.
   I have personally known some of the remarkable people that the Chinese Government targets for persecution. In the early 1990s, and I mentioned this earlier when we considered Mr. English‘s resolution, I met with Bishop Su of Baoding Province, a man who celebrated mass for our small delegation. I was amazed by his lack of animosity, by his lack of anything that even comes close to hate. He actually loved those who persecuted him and said he spent a considerable amount of time praying for his persecutors. He has now spent some 30 years of his life in prison and has suffered time and time again the ravages of torture by his persecutors. What kind of barbaric regime hurts a man like this?
   Last summer, our Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations heard compelling testimony from Mr. Chen Yonglin, formerly a diplomat for the Chinese Government who said, “According to my knowledge, the persecution of the Falun Gong by the Chinese Government is a systematic campaign.”
   To my horror, we have heard reports of the Chinese government targeting the Falun Gong for organ harvesting. According to the State Department’s 2005 International Religious Freedom Report, the China Government’s respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remains poor, especially for many unregistered religious groups and spiritual movements.
   Members of unregistered groups, including Protestants and Catholics, are subject to restrictions including intimidation, harassment, detention, arrest, and add to that torture.
   Those who perhaps read the scathing report that was written by the rapporteur for the United Nations on torture that was released last December cannot help but be repelled by the ongoing systematic use of torture against those who are trying to promote either worker’s rights, basic fundamental human rights, but especially those who espouse religious freedom and religious liberty.
   Given all of these disturbing facts, Madam Speaker, Mr. McCotter‘s resolution condemning the government of China’s systematic persecution of religious freedom is both appropriate and timely.
   Let me also say, Madam Speaker, and I do hope the press takes some notice, today we are considering an unprecedented three resolutions on China. Each and every one of these is bipartisan. Mr. Lantos, as Mr. Wolf said a moment ago, has been a great champion of human rights all over the world, including in China, has joined with Henry Hyde, the chairman of the committee, and myself, along with Mr. Wolf and Mr. English. This is bipartisan. We talk a lot about bipartisanship or lack of it in recent weeks and months in this Chamber, but when it comes to human rights, especially as it relates to China, we are together.
   Now that we know what the problem is, we need to speak more about solutions. Hopefully as we move forward in this congressional session, we will talk more about what we need to be doing to try to get this government to roll back its repression.
   President Hu’s visit was an opportunity. I would respectfully submit that it was a missed opportunity to raise these issues in a powerful way. He went back home to China thinking he had won over the American people. He has not. His record is deplorable, especially as it relates to religious persecution.
   Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
   Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
   Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution. Nearly three decades after the normalization of relations, Beijing and Washington have a mature, evolving relationship. Our two countries are working cooperatively on a broad range of issues facing the world from North Korea to matters before the U.N. Security Council.
   But in our effort to maintain this cooperative spirit, we must not sugar-coat the areas of intense disagreement between the United States and China. Beijing’s systematic denial of religious liberty to the Chinese people is one of the darkest episodes in modern Chinese history.
   Pushing for religious tolerance must remain at the core of our bilateral agenda with Beijing, regardless of China’s Government’s predictably negative reactions to our entreaties.
   The leadership in Beijing must understand that we will never have a fully normal relationship with China until there is measurable progress on a broad range of human rights issues, including religious freedom.
   As this resolution notes, an intolerably long list of religions and faiths are squarely in the cross-hairs of the Chinese Government. The treatment of Tibetans, Catholics, and the Falun Gong is emblematic of the broader Chinese campaign against those who worship in an unauthorized manner.
   In the case of Tibetan Buddhists, Beijing has a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that it has opened a new chapter in an otherwise tragic story of the Chinese repression and marginalization of the Tibetans in their own land.
   [Time: 15:15]
   While we are pleased that China has held five rounds of discussions with representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama regarding the future of Tibet, the talks have not produced any concrete results, and our patience is wearing thin. If Beijing truly cares about preserving Tibet’s unique religious and cultural heritage, it should invite the Dalai Lama to visit China and Tibet in the near future. Chinese leaders should also negotiate a deal with the Dalai Lama that allows His Holiness to return permanently to Tibet to manage the religious and cultural and economic affairs of the Tibetan people.
   Religious freedom is a right due all Chinese, whether Tibetan, members of [Page: H3736] GPO’s PDF
the Catholic Church or the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Tens of thousands of Falun Gong adherents have been locked away in psychiatric institutions. They have been tortured and jailed and even killed for refusing to renounce their faith. What a tragedy, Madam Speaker.

   The resolution before us shines the spotlight on China’s horrendous record of religious freedom. The words in our resolution will cause great discomfort in Beijing. But when dealing with friends, it is far better to lay the facts on the table than to sweep the bitter truth under the rug.
   Madam Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support this resolution.
   I yield back the balance of my time.
   Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the distinguished chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for the State Department, FRANK WOLF of Virginia.
   Mr. WOLF. Madam Speaker, I want to just, before I talk on this resolution, mention the one on Tiananmen. I want to be here and have the world know that I stood with the tank man and stood with those who are in prison in Tiananmen.
CHRIS SMITH and I were in Beijing Prison Number 1. I am sure he talked about it. But some of those young men and women are still in prison today, and some of you listening to this are wearing socks or underwear that have been made by them. So I want the world to know, Tiananmen Square demonstrators are still in prison, still in prison.

   Now, on this resolution, I want to express grave disappointment with the Bush administration. I wrote every member of the Bush administration after meeting with dissidents in China and over here, who said, please have the Bush administration come to our church services, the way that they did in the Reagan administration with regard to the Soviet Union. They said, please, we will stand with them. We want someone, someone from the Bush administration to come into a house church. We are tired of seeing the Bush administration going into the churches that are recognized by the Chinese government.
   So I wrote every high appointee in the Bush administration and I asked them would they call the individuals and stand with them, go to their apartments, as we used to do in the 1980s in Moscow with the Sakharovs and the Scharanksys, and in 3 months, not one Bush administration person has taken the time to pick up the telephone and to call the name and the telephone numbers of the individuals.
   What do you get out of the Bush administration? Silence. Silence. We should remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, and I quote, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” And Dr. King’s statement is so poignant. “In times of trouble, the silence of an enemy is expected, but the silence of a friend is devastating.” I ask the Bush administration to break the silence. Speak out for Riba Qadiri, speak out for the Catholic Church. Speak out for the Evangelical Church. Speak out for those in Tibet who are being persecuted. The young Buddhist nun who came to my office 2 weeks ago had been in the Drapchi prison for 15 years for doing nothing.
   This is a test. I am writing the Bush administration officials again, and I am giving the telephone number to call. I say now, with this opportunity, and I am going to give them the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Silence should be over. It is now time for the Bush administration to adopt the policies of the Reagan administration, of Ronald Reagan, to stand with the dissidents because by standing next, it is like in government or politics. If somebody says they are really for you, but they don’t want to be identified with you, how much are they really for you?
   How much is the Bush administration really for the Catholic Church in China? How much is the Bush administration really for the Evangelical house church who are putting their lives on the line? How much are they for those who are being persecuted in Tibet? How much are they for the Uighurs? How much for the Falun Gong? And keep in mind, this government is spying against our government much more aggressively than they did in the Soviet Union.
   I close again with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” If the Bush administration wants to be the friends of the dissidents, the silence should be broken. And Clark Randt, our Ambassador in China, should be the first one to begin to break the silence.
[Begin Insert]
   Ms. BORDALLO. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 608, Condemning the escalating levels of religious persecution in the People’s Republic of China. I am concerned by reports that the People’s Republic of China persecutes, coerces, and harasses its citizens based solely on religious beliefs. Freedom of worship is a human right enshrined in Article 18 of the Uniform Declaration of Human Rights, to which the People’s Republic of China is a signatory.
   The abuses of members of the Catholic clergy by the Chinese government are especially troubling. The people of Guam predominantly follow the teaching and leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. The people of Guam, however, enjoy and indeed benefit from those on the island who practice different faiths. Faith in God and religious tolerance are both celebrated characteristics of the people of Guam.
   The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for the freedom to worship as an individual chooses. I urge the People’s Republic of China to act accordingly.
   I strongly support this resolution. I urge my colleagues’ support.
[End Insert]
   Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Wolf for his very powerful statement, as well as Mr. Lantos, on this resolution.
   I yield back the balance of my time.
   The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith,) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 608, as amended.
   The question was taken.
   The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of those present have voted in the affirmative.
   Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
   The yeas and nays were ordered.
   The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair’s prior announcement, further proceedings on this question will be postponed.


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