Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board’s decision to prevent funds from the federal government employee retirement savings programs from being invested in Chinese corporations. The board had proposed to allow investments in an international fund that included several Chinese companies, including Hikvision, credibly implicated in serious religious freedom violations. In requesting the change, the U.S. National Security Advisor cited religious freedom concerns in addition to the national security and economic factors.
“The board’s decision should reassure federal employees that their hard-earned retirement savings won’t fund religious freedom violations in China,” noted USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “We should never sacrifice our values for profit.”
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the administration to use its authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the International Religious Freedom Act to impose targeted sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for severe religious freedom violations, especially Chen Quanguo, the current Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang. In September 2019, USCIRF released a report documenting the Chinese government uses surveillance technology provided by companies like Hikvision to monitor religious communities.
“The Chinese government has created a dystopian surveillance state and uses advanced camera systems to monitor Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and other religious groups,” USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee added. “Religious freedom is an illusion without the right to pray in privacy.”
In February 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet explaining how the Chinese government’s new Regulation for Religious Groups could further restrict religious freedom.