By Tenzin Dharpo
Mike Pence speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC on 4 October. Photo- Jim Watson_AFP_Getty Images
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 5: United States Vice-President Mike Pence on Thursday spoke against China’s crack down on religious freedom and minorities, calling it a “new wave of persecution” at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
“Beijing is also cracking down on Buddhism. Over the past decade, more than 150 Tibetan Buddhist monks have lit themselves on fire to protest China’s repression of their beliefs and culture,” Pence said remarking on the string of self immolations in occupied Tibet, especially by monastics.
He also said, “A new wave of persecution is crashing down on Chinese Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims. And Beijing has now reached a deal with the Vatican that gives the avowedly atheist Communist Party a direct role in appointing Catholic bishops. For China’s Christians, these are desperate times.”
Pence said Uyghur Muslims have been subjected to severe persecution in practicing their faith and culture. “In Xinjiang, the Communist Party has imprisoned as many as one million Muslim Uyghurs in government camps where they endure around-the-clock brainwashing. Survivors of the camps have described their experiences as a deliberate attempt by Beijing to strangle Uyghur culture and stamp out the Muslim faith,” he said.
In a far grander scheme, Pence said that China is fast becoming a “surveillance state” bent on installing an “Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life” of its subjects including so-called ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs.
Key among his allegations were China’s attempt to influence American public opinion, the upcoming mid-term elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential election. Pence said that China’s attempts to meddle in American democracy, businesses, academic institutions and media organizations is far more encompassing to what many say Russia had done.
“Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups and propaganda outlets to shift Americans’ perception of Chinese policies. As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” the US Vice-President said.