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China expands its religious war to the Catholic Church

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Not content with its genocide against the Uyghur Muslim people, China is expanding its war on religious freedom. Beijing's new front: the Catholic Church.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested by Hong Kong police. Officials say the 90-year-old, who retired from active service in 2009, is "accused of urging foreign organizations to impose sanctions against Hong Kong, which could endanger national security." Translation: He spoke freely in a manner that the Chinese Communist Party disagrees with. Zen was arrested alongside a former pro-democracy lawmaker.

The basic takeaway is clear — this is yet another terrible act of disdain for basic human rights. But it's also a gratuitous insult to the global Catholic Church. General Secretary Xi Jinping's government is aware that this arrest will cause profound upset around the world. Another despotic regime might have considered that risk before taking this action. Not Beijing. Nothing is more important to the CCP than its unyielding presentation of absolute control. If in doubt, it must strike out. But in this truth, the broader lesson becomes clear: Zen is an enemy of Xi's despicable regime because he is incompatible with it. He is a man of decency who has spent his entire life in the service of higher values and those less fortunate. Zen thus represents everything that the CCP is not.

The arrest comes just days after Communist Party hard-liner John Lee was appointed as Hong Kong's new chief executive. Beijing's claims that Lee was elected are slightly undermined by the fact that he was the only candidate able to stand. Regardless, a security apparatchik by trade, Lee's tenure is likely to see further crackdowns against all those who dare to seek a Hong Kong as it is supposed to be, namely a city that respects the basic human rights of its citizens. Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a binding treaty governing the city's transferred sovereignty to China, Beijing is legally obliged to uphold Hong Kong's autonomy until at least 2047.

As with all things, the Communist Party's commitments are about as reliable as the truth of its propaganda. Still, the sickening moral hypocrisy in what Communist China says and what Communist China actually does demands our attention because the hypocrisy is beyond extraordinary.

Consider, for example, that it was barely a week ago that Lee, the new chief executive, claimed he is Catholic. Talk about a betrayal of faith. This is only the tip of the iceberg, of course. While we in the West have the fortune of avoiding the plight of Zen and the Uyghurs, their experiences remind us to judge more carefully who and what we are dealing with in Xi and his party.

While the Communist Party claims it is dedicated to the service of its people, it happily throws 2 million Uyghurs into concentration camps, enforces brutal COVID lockdowns and family separations in its greatest metropolises, and disappears those who dare make jokes about its dear leader. Even the most basic complaints, those demanding better local government rather than offering criticism of the central government, are quickly censored from Chinese social media platforms. It says much about this regime's insecurity that it employs tens of thousands of censors and spends tens of billions of dollars to keep its people from a shared discourse. This is something we should always remember as we complain about Twitter's craziness.

The list of hypocrisies goes on.

While the Communist Party commits to opening its markets to foreign investment and improved rules of law, it forces technology transfers and steals hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign intellectual property. Evinced by major U.S. corporations such as Coca-Cola and Disney and institutions such as Hollywood and the NBA, China also demands silence in return for business dealings. China does not seek a global economy but rather a feudal mercantile empire with Xi at the top.

Perhaps best reflecting its feudal nature is the Communist Party's call for beneficent "win-win cooperation" in international relations. Left out of this sales pitch, however, are the debt traps for impoverished nations, hostage-taking of foreign visitors, corralling of a vast swathe of international waters, culling of ocean wildlife, and feigning of victim status when challenged on all these counts.

Zen, then, is just the tip of the iceberg. If Communist China is willing to do this to its own citizens, Americans should not think well of what its global supremacy would mean for us.

 

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Tags: Editorials, China, Communist Party, Catholic Church, Religion

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