society

Behind ‘ChinaAid’: US-backed ‘religious’ group attacks China with lies and sabotage

▲A cathedral in Jinan, East China’s Shandong Province. File Photo: IC

It has been a commonplace to see the US’ anti-China forces stand behind so-called non-profit groups in pointing fingers at China’s religious policies, attempting to disturb China’s political and social stability with lies and sabotage. 

China Aid Association, also called China Aid or ChinaAid, is one of the most active US-backed organizations that has been blatantly engaged in anti-China infiltration and subversive activities for years. With slogans including “religious freedom” and “human rights,” the group has been producing and spreading numerous rumors to smear China’s policies on religions, and keeps playing as a source for Western media’s misreports on China.

Chinese observers describe ChinaAid as a cat’s-paw of the US in realizing its conspiracy of politicizing religious matters in China. The group, religious on the surface, is actually a political movement that breaks the local order and values, said Li Haidong a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University.

“True religious groups will not interfere and blame other countries as their main job… therefore, ChinaAid is actually a political organization,” Li told the Global Times on Monday.

US-backed

ChinaAid seems not to mind that its connection with the US is known to all. With headquarter in Texas and an office in Washington, this US-based group has been in close contact with US authorities since it was established in 2002 by anti-China pastor “Bob” Fu Xiqiu, who left China for the US in 1997.

In 2017, several US congressmen including Chris Smith attended ChinaAids’ 15th anniversary celebration at the Library of Congress, and openly called for a tough stance by the Trump administration against China on “human rights” issues, VOA reported in February 2017.

As ChinaAid showed on its website, the group works with an “advisory board” consisting of several US’ anti-China politicians and scholars, such as former House of Representative Frank Wolf, who initiated the infamous “Wolf Clause” in 2011 to prohibit the US from cooperating with China in scientific space research and activities. Right-wing academic William Inboden, a former member of Strategic Planning on the National Security Council at the White House who advocated a “peaceful evolution” on China, is also on the list as a ChinaAid “advisor.”

There are also notorious names on the “cooperative institutes” on China Aid’s website, which are described as “partners that advocate religious freedom, human rights and rule of law in China.”

The first on the list is the veteran anti-China foundation National Endowment for Democracy (NED). 

Founded in 1983, the NED offers more than 1,600 grants each year to support projects of nongovernmental groups abroad that are working for so-called “democratic goals” in more than 90 countries and regions, with its funding mainly from the US Congress. 

According to NED’s own data, it spent more than $1.16 million in Hong Kong from 2016 to 2018. A majority of its sponsorships went to Solidarity Center and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, which NED refers to as core grantees.  

Freedom House, another partner of China Aid, was founded in 1941 to oppose communism in Europe. It works as a think tank for the US Department of Defense and is closely linked to the Busch family. Around 80 percent of its funds are from the US government and it works for US authorities, according to an article published in 2005 in a journal affiliated to China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

The Lantos Foundation, founded in 2008 named after former US congressman Thomas Lantos, is also active on anti-China issues in the name of religion and human rights and interferes in China’s affairs on Tibet and Xinjiang. In 2009, the foundation awarded its first “Lantos Human Rights Prize” to Dalai Lama. The US Congress established the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in 1983. The Lantos family is also involved in the Fa Lung Gong.

It is no surprise that anti-China forces in the US stand so close to ChinaAid, said a religious person who personally knows ChinaAid’s Fu. “They exploit each other for their own separate advantages,” said the man who preferred only to be called Wang.

ChinaAid makes a living in the US through anti-China activities, Wang said. It gains funds and donations from US government-backed foundations by picking on China’s religious policies, he said.

“For Fu, attacking China is a job or a business that enables him to make money and survive in the US,” Wang told the Global Times Monday, saying that Fu could otherwise hardly establish himself there as an ordinary pastor. “The US has the least shortage of pastors.”

The US government, on the other hand, also cooperates with religious groups like ChinaAid to subvert ideology and promote “Americanization” [in China] with their hands, Li said. “It is a characteristic of the US’ diplomacy to work on human rights, ideology and value. The preaching activity is also exporting US values,” he said.

Usual trick

Several Chinese scholars and government officials reached by the Global Times said that ChinaAid had long supported underground Christian churches in China and their illegal activities, which had severely threatened China’s social stability and the sound development of religions.

In previous years, ChinaAid has been fostering and training its Chinese domestic members outside the Chinese mainland, said Zhou Shan (pseudonym), a former grassroots-level official in East China’s Zhejiang Province who dealt with religion related issues for local residents.

After receiving trainings, the members built illegal Christian groups such as “family churches” following ChinaAid’s directions, Zhou told the Global Times on Monday, recalling that these underground religious forces had infiltrated into local small towns and villages in rural Zhejiang, which had posed a big threat to the political and social safety there before being cracked down.

A usual trick that ChinaAid played in interfering and smearing China’s religious policies is  building up unregistered religious venues and organizing illegal activities, and then yelling  “religious persecution” after the Chinese government prohibits these things in accordance with law, Zhou said, pointing out that ChinaAid usually misled the public by intentionally misrepresenting China’s ban on unlawful activities as a crackdown on religious freedom or human rights.

“It’s neither factual nor logical, but quite catered to the taste of the Western anti-China forces,” he sighed.

Similarly, the so-called investigation reports on China’s religious situation that ChinaAid regularly releases are full of one-sided, exaggerated misinformation, including its clichés slandering China for “religious suppression” in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Xinjiang, in sharp contrast, has some 24,400 mosques, meaning a mosque for 530 Muslims on average – more than 10 times of that in the US. “China protects people’s freedom of religious belief and it’s okay to go to legally registered religious venues,” Zhou said. “But anti-China groups like ChinaAid just turn a blind eye to that.”

Exchanges on religions should be based on respecting differences and communicating equally, Li noted. “This is the principle of religion management of China to avoid religious organizations from other countries to interfere in the independence of religions in China, as well as ensure the country’s sovereignty and people’s normal daily life.”

Zhang Yutong contributed to this story

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