China’s War on Christians Spreads to Hong Kong
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
February 23, 2021
The free world has rightly reacted in horror to Beijing’s sweeping campaign to crush political freedom in Hong Kong, particularly since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed its draconian National Security Law (NSL) on Hong Kong last summer.
Now, the CCP is beginning to overturn religious freedom by using the NSL’s provision against “collusion with foreign forces” as a pretext.
And yet, in the face of the ongoing crackdown and against all precedent, past and present, some religious authorities still believe they can carve out deals with the CCP to protect their communities.
The Vatican has worked with Beijing to seek compromise on a long-running dispute over the appointment of bishops in the mainland. However, the provisional agreement has not succeeded in helping unregistered churches that refuse to accept CCP control of their congregations. Nor has it stopped the CCP from detaining priests or tearing down crosses on churches.
Worse, the agreement has now failed to prevent the spread of CCP interference in the appointment of bishops to Hong Kong, which has been without one for two years. Press reports indicate that the prolonged gap is due to Beijing seeking to influence the selection.
Meanwhile, the situation on the ground is deteriorating for those actually trying to live out their faith.
[Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong] Cardinal Zen had long warned of a coming crackdown in Hong Kong and predicted it would eventually result in the Hong Kong Diocese, which had enjoyed relative freedom, being subjected to the same restrictions that Catholics face in China.
After the NSL came into effect last year, Zen said, “we are already in that situation.” He unfortunately sees no prospect of improvement for the Hong Kong church coming out of Vatican negotiations with the CCP, asking, “Is there any choice between helping the government to destroy the Church or resisting the government to keep our faith?”
The right to freely worship and live out one’s faith according to one’s conscience is sacred and fundamental to what it means to live with dignity. Whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, a practitioner of Falun Gong, or an atheist, all should be horrified by the CCP’s campaign to co-opt religious authorities and, eventually, stamp out faith for good. It forecasts the future for us all, believers and non-believers, if the CCP’s power and global influence are left unchecked.