- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001

China has increased its persecution of unauthorized religious worshippers in the last year despite having won favorable trading concessions from the United States, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in a report yesterday.
"The situation in China has grown worse over the past year as the government has intensified its crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, on unregistered Protestant and Catholic Christians, on Tibetan Buddhists, and on Uighur Muslims," said Elliot Abrams, chairman of the commission.
The group called for greater linkage between human and religious rights and trade and asked the Bush administration to lobby against Beijing being awarded the Olympic Games until it improves its rights record.
"In addition to the persecution of its own citizens, there is no reason to believe those going to Games in Beijing would be able to practice their religion," said Mr. Abrams, an assistant secretary of state during the Reagan administration.
The first report, last year, targeted only Russia, China and Sudan. This year, the report expanded its scope to add Vietnam, North Korea, Iran, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria, accusing each of varying degrees of religious rights abuse.
Mr. Abrams said improved religious rights should be a "prerequisite" of improved relations with Iran and a "key part" of improved relations with North Korea. He called on the Bush administration to prod China and Vietnam to improve their rights records in exchange for better trade status.
"We would like to see a linkage between religious freedom and every part of the relationship the United States has with China," he said.
Nina Shea, a commission member who just returned from Geneva where she represented the United States at the U.N. Human Rights Commission, said that unlike the United States, China was very open about linking all bilateral issues with human rights.
"It is obvious that the Chinese link. They are quite open about their bullying and reprisal tactics" against countries that criticize their rights record, she said.
The report moved into new territory by calling for companies doing business in nations designated by the State Department as "countries of particular concern" to be required to disclose the nature and extent of their business in each country.
Of particular concern is international investment in oil development in Sudan.
"Oil is now playing a central role in the atrocities in Sudan," said Mr. Abrams. "Investing in the oil industry in Sudan should be banned."
He said that Canadas Talisman, Total/Fina Elf of France, Lundin of Sweden, PetroChina and others are open to U.S. investors.
"An investor may not know when investing that the company is involved in oil development in Sudan," he said.
The report also recommends withholding U.S. aid to countries and individuals identified as having engaged in religious rights abuse.



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