The condition of religious persecution in China overall has been deteriorating, particularly since the year 2002, according to the president of the China Aid Association (CAA) and a former pastor of the South China Church.
Although it is difficult to give an exact number, without including Falun Gong practitioners, 20,000-plus members of underground religious groups have been arrested, detained, kidnapped or placed under house arrest, the CAAs Bob Fu said in a recent article on the religious liberty situation in China. Hundreds of churches and homes have been destroyed. Many of the family members of those arrested or detained [ ] have been put on wanted lists and have had to flee their homes.
According to Fu, many of the arrested believers, especially women, were tortured, raped or sexually abused during their interrogations.
One would have expected a better start once the new leadership took office in 2003, but what has happened doesn't match this expectation, Fu continued. Within just the first nine months of , we have recorded over 400 arrests of house church pastors.
Fu reported that last year within the month of September, thirteen pastors were formally sent to re-education through labor in Henan Province alone.
In light of these and other developments, Fu is making the following recommendations in his talks with U.S. government officials and Members of Congress. The Virginia-based Jubilee Campaign is joining Fu in advancing these proposals.
Fu wrote: "In addition to continuing to raise the issue of religious persecution in high-level bilateral talks, I have four specific proposals on how the U.S. can help achieve the goals of religious freedom in China.
"1. The U.S. government can compile a list of religious persecutors in China and make it part of the public record, including such information as the annual report by the [State Department's Office on International Religious Freedom]. Also, the possibility should be explored of holding such perpetrators accountable in legal venues upon entering the United States. This will encourage more human treatment by officials toward those who are arrested. We have documented many individual names of those who have directly participated in torture activities against innocent religious believers such as Ms. Liu Xianzhi and her fellow South China Church prisoners.
"2. With the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaching, the new Administration should encourage the US business community actively to link their financial sponsorship and investments in China with the issue of religious freedom. US firms should be discouraged from investing in those provinces and cities with severe religious persecution and torture. The members of Congress whose districts have business interests in China can raise the same concern to their Chinese counterpart officials.
"3. The administration and community leaders should make a conscientious effort in both policy and at the community advocacy level to find and boycott those US and Chinese companies who are involved in the importation of products such as Christmas lights and rugs made by the hands of the persecuted laborers in the forced labor camps, such as Ms. Liu.
"4. The administration and Congress should urge the European Union not to lift its arms embargo on China unless substantial progress is made on human rights--especially on the religious freedom issue.
"5. The administration and Congress should actively demand that the Chinese government abide by its international obligations to protect and provide basic necessities for refugees from North Korea who have fled to China seeking freedom, including religious freedom.
"Above all, I think millions of caring, loving ordinary Americans . . . can make a huge difference through their constant prayers, letter campaigns and numerous visits, as well as by embracing Chinese religious refugees when they enter the US for freedom of worship."