USCIRF reprimanded American CEOs for implicitly supporting China’s crackdown on religious liberty. They paid $40,000 for being there and got nothing in return.
by Massimo Introvigne
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its commissioners are appointed by the President and by Congressional leaders of both political parties.
The USCIRF’s mandate does not extend to U.S. domestic policy, and it rarely criticizes American citizens. However, for once it did. In a rare statement published on November 17, the USCIRF “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—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 USCIRF was protesting the fact that American business leaders gave a big round of applause to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a dinner organized for them on November 15 in San Francisco.
“The U.S. business community, the USCIRF said, 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… 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.”
USCIRF also “strongly condemns U.S. lobbyist firms—including former members of Congress—for working on behalf of their Chinese clients like Hikvision and Huawei, which have been sanctioned by the U.S. government for their complicity in human rights abuses. 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. 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.”
The business leaders paid $40,000 to sit at Xi Jinping’s table, ignored human rights, and got very little in return. According to the specialized media, he did not meet the expectations of the audience, which wanted to be reassured on problems faced in China by foreign companies, including those created by the new invasive anti-espionage laws. Under the title “U.S. Executives Get no Reassurance from Xi on Tougher China Business Environment,” “The Wall Street Journal” reported one opinion representative of many. Xi “‘offered no hints of concessions to business or even interest in more investment in the Chinese economy,’ said a senior American business executive who attended the dinner. ‘The speech was propaganda at its finest.’”
However, for their $40,000 the businesspersons got Xi’s reassurance that China may “send more pandas to the U.S.” They applauded even more enthusiastically. Sure, they all went there for the pandas.