China Sanctions Former USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore

On 26 May 2021, China officially announced sanctions against Reverend and former Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Johnnie Moore. Moore, who has been a vocal critique regarding the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution against religious communities, expressed his personal views in the 2021 USCIRF Report, stating that “China is relapsing to its cultural revolution, but with the aid of technology Mao could have only dreamed of – all of which it is using to pursue and enable genocide.”

The sanction, which was officially announced on Wednesday, is believed to be in response to both Moore’s work in highlighting China’s egregious religious freedom violations, but also in response to the United States’ 12 May 2021 sanction against Yui Hui, a Chinese government official responsible for “gross violations of human rights, namely the arbitrary detention of Falun Gong practitioners for their spiritual beliefs.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, during Wednesday’s press conference, stated that “in response to the US blatant move to endorse cults and impose unilateral sanctions in Chinese personnel based on lies and disinformation, China decides to sanction Johnnie Moore […] The individual concerned and his family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau of China. China urges the US side to rectify its mistake, rescind the so-called sanctions and stop interfering [in] China’s internal affairs in the name of religious issues.”

In response to the sanction, USCIRF, for whom Johnnie served as a Commissioner for two consecutive terms, released the following remarks:

“The Chinese government’s most recent sanction targeting USCIRF’s work defending the religious freedom of the Chinese people is counterproductive, at best. It will only draw more international attention to the atrocities and horrors being perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and countless other Chinese citizens.” – USCIRF Chair Anurima Bhargava

“Johnnie Moore joins a growing list of government officials and human rights activists – including myself and former USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin – who the brutal Chinese Communist regime has sanctioned for criticizing its oppressive policies and religious freedom violations. This sanction is a badge of honor. We will continue to work unflinchingly with our international partners to hold the CCP accountable for its atrocious religious freedom violations.” – USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins.

Johnnie Moore himself has responded to the sanctions, making the following statement via his personal Twitter account:

“It is an honor to be sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party for giving my voice to the Uyghur Muslims, Christians (including Jimmy Lai), Tibetan Buddhists & countless others the CCP tries to silence every day – a privilege of living in the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave. The CCP doesn’t understand the difference between ‘the truth’ and a ‘lie’ but here’s some truth we know: they are weaker than they want us to believe they are. A global coalition is building to hold them to account and it transcends political parties and U.S. administrations. This Great Wall of Collaboration is a promise to future generations that we will not hand our world to the CCP to victimize the innocent as they please.”

Cover image by sodai gomi on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)