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U.S. Religious Liberty Commissioner: U.S. Corporations Cozying Up to China ‘Ended Up Changing America’

This picture taken on November 6, 2018 shows a Chinese and US flag at a booth during the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. - There is a notable absentee among the dozens of national pavilions at a massive Chinese import fair -- the United States -- a …
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
PENNY STARR

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. corporations that cozy up to the Chinese communist government and ignore its brutal and even deadly treatment of religious minorities to gain access to their markets need instead to stand up for American values, a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Liberty (USCIRF) said on Monday at the release of its 2019 report.

Commissioner Gary Bauer said that the report “very gently” notes that U.S. corporations are putting profit over principles by ignoring how China is brutalizing its people because of their religious beliefs.

“I’d like to get a little bit more specific,” Bauer said. “Trade with China was supposed to change China. Trade with China ended up changing America as more and more corporations became dependent on the goodwill of the Chinese government.”

“So I will personally say, ‘Shame on you if you are a U.S. corporation and you are forgetting the first part of the description of you — you are a U.S. corporation. You are a corporation founded in a country that was built on religious liberty.’”

“How dare you make a separate peace with the Chinese government in order to advance your financial interests?” he asked. “We hope the U.S. government will keep the pressure on U.S. businesses so that they will stand for the values of the country that allowed them to be successful to begin with.”

Bauer, who is also president of the conservative think tank American Values, told Breitbart News that while he was not speaking broadly about all U.S. corporations, some businesses are ignoring China’s religious and human rights abuses.

“Clearly there are some companies that have put their specific perceived economic interests and having access to the Chinese market ahead of the values they ought to stand for as a United States corporation,” Bauer told Breitbart News.

Bauer said while corporations do have an obligation to their shareholders and even their employees, they also have a responsibility to reflect their American heritage when dealing with other nations.

“I think there’s a lot of evidence that U.S. corporations are becoming in some cases mouthpieces for the Chinese government,” Bauer said. “Apologists for the U.S. government. Or quietly they pressure whatever administration that is in power to not be too harsh on China because it might hurt business opportunities and I, quite frankly, think that that’s disgusting.”

Bauer added that is why he has always opposed granting “favored nation status” to China.

In its annual report, USCIRF focused on 28 countries that are ranked Tier 2 — “countries in which religious freedom conditions do not rise to the statutory level that would mandate a CPC designation but require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by governments,” or Tier 1 — “those countries that commit systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

The countries rated Tier 1 in the report are: Burma, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Tier 2 countries are: Afghansistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey.

Lauren Ashburn, managing editor and anchor of EWTN News Nightly, moderated the commission’s panel discussion on the report.

“The cover of the report highlights the Uighur Muslims and their plight at the hands of the Chinese government,” Ashburn said to Bauer. “Religious freedom seems to be deteriorating right before our eyes … in China. And the U.S. and China are on the cusp of a major trade agreement. So what should the U.S. government be doing to address these atrocities?” 

“If we were going to rate the Tier 1 countries, China would be in a category all by itself in the level of persecution,” she added. “They are an equal opportunity persecutor. They will go after anybody of any faith that might compete with the communist, atheistic government of China for the loyalty of their citizens.”

“China is an expanding power,” Bauer said. “It’s a country getting more and more powerful by the year. And to have a country with these ideas and this degree of persecution ought to be something that scares everyone.”

Bauer said religious liberty should be on the table whenever anything is negotiated with China, including trade.

“We are continuing to push that idea, and many of the commissioners are working with the administration every chance we get to remind them that it’s not just tariffs and jobs, as important as that is, but it’s also this basic idea – the right of every man and woman whether they’re in China or wherever they are to seek God and worship God as they see fit,” Bauer said.

According to its website “USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties.”

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