Freedom House, a U.S.-based human rights organization, recently released Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach, a report revealing that the Chinese Communist Party is conducting a global, transnational crackdown on many groups, including Uighurs, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Taiwanese, and human rights defenders, that is far more extensive and massive than any other country.
According to Freedom House’s report, conservative records indicate that the Chinese Communist authorities have carried out 214 cases of direct physical attacks, far more than in any other country. “Freedom House calls on governments not to take for granted that dealing with the CCP will not involve human rights persecution and consequences.
The report describes the methods used by the CCP as ranging from direct threats such as rendition, to cooperation with other countries to detain and deport exiles, to operational control, to remote threats such as cyber threats, spyware and threats by proxy.
Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, said, “The scale and intensity of these attacks underscore the dangers people face even when they flee repression [in their Home countries].” He noted that stopping transnational repression is critical to protecting liberal democracy and reducing the impact of authoritarianism.
The CCP’s authoritarian repressive tactics are a growing threat to global freedoms as they affect other countries.
According to the report, in 2016, Communist authorities began rounding up Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, setting up “re-Education” camps, collecting their passports and preventing them from leaving. were often put in concentration camps.
Those who did not return, or those who fled China, were in some cases repatriated to China. in 2015, at least 109 Uyghurs were illegally deported from Thailand, and another 13 Uyghurs were repatriated from Egypt without due process, with 86 more likely to be illegally deported from Egypt.
The global persecution of Uighurs continues to this day.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported in March 2020 that between 200 and 400 Uyghurs were detained in Turkey in 2019 alone. Despite all their efforts, Uighurs are still being deported from Turkey back to China. in August 2019, a Uighur woman and her two children were deported from Turkey to Tajikistan and then promptly handed over to Chinese Communist detention. Media reports say that five or six other Uighurs were on that flight with her.
Hong Kongers, Singaporeans, Taiwanese and U.S. citizens
The report also notes that new laws passed by the CCP in recent years, such as the National Intelligence Law, the Hong Kong National Security Law and the draft Digital Security Law, seek to legalize the CCP’s control outside of China.
In the wake of the massive pro-democracy protests that erupted in Hong Kong in 2019, pro-democracy advocates were followed, harassed and attacked with red paint by pro-communist groups when they traveled to Taiwan.
A Singaporean human rights activist was sentenced to 10 days in jail in August 2020 for “illegal assembly” after a Skype conference call with Huang Zhifeng during a discussion event in Singapore in 2016.
In April 2016, eight Taiwanese citizens were extradited from Kenya to mainland China after being acquitted in the telecom fraud case, despite strong protests by the ROC government.
The web of persecution spread across the globe tightened as Beijing imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong around June 2020.
The first person to receive an arrest warrant after the Hong Kong National Security Law was U.S. citizen Zhu Mumin, who was charged for receiving support from the U.S. government for his support of the cause of Hong Kong’s freedom. Zhu and others like him must now avoid traveling not only to Hong Kong, but also to any country that has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong or China.
Human Rights Defender Journalists
According to the report’s research, human rights defenders and journalists have been attacked. In Australia, independent Chinese-language media outlets have been subjected to diplomatic pressure from the Chinese Communist Party to withdraw advertising and even sponsorship from local town councils, as well as to such abuses as stealing newspapers.
Chinese journalists, political cartoonists, and pro-democracy activists who have fled China have been threatened or detained in countries such as Thailand and Burma, and in some cases forcibly returned to the mainland. These include the teenage son of a detained human rights lawyer
Reports indicate that Nepal is a gateway for Tibetans fleeing China under the “Gentlemen’s Agreement. Tibetans first arrive in Nepal and then travel to India. Under Chinese Communist pressure, this route is no longer safe.
In October 2019, the Nepalese government signed a new agreement with the Chinese Communist Party that includes a “border management system” and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which will speed up the transfer of Tibetans from Nepal to the Chinese Communist Party.
According to the report, the Communist government is accelerating the eradication of Mongolian Culture and language in 2020, while forcefully suppressing protests that arise. This threat has also spread to Mongolian ethnic groups living outside of China. in September 2020, a man from Inner Mongolia in Australia reported that he received a phone call from local Communist Party authorities warning him that he would be expelled from Australia if he spoke out about events in Inner Mongolia.
CCP surveillance and suppression through WeChat
The Chinese Communist Party employs hacking and phishing attacks as part of its transnational crackdown tools. One of the latest ways in which the CCP is deploying repressive tactics overseas is through the WeChat platform, which is prevalent among Chinese users around the world and through which the CCP monitors and controls discussions among Chinese on all sides.
The report, “Invisible, Yet Constructed,” notes that the CCP uses all means of human rights violations, including direct attacks, influencing other countries to engage in interactions, mobile device control, distant threats, assassinations, raids, physical threats, accidental disappearances, detentions, illegal deportations, Interpol abuses, passport document control, coercion by proxy, digital threats, spyware, and more.
Figure: The report “Invisible, but Conceivable” points out that the CCP uses all means of human rights violations, such as direct attacks, influencing other countries to participate in interactions, mobile device control, remote threats, assassinations, raids, physical threats, accidental disappearances, detentions, illegal deportations, Interpol abuses, passport document control, coercion by proxy, digital threats, spyware, etc. (screenshot of the report)
Out of Sight, Out of Mind reminds governments that despite the CCP’s efforts to create an image that legitimizes it, governments and companies should not take for granted that human rights abuses and consequences are not involved in their interactions with the CCP.