Dozens call for end to China-EU extradition agreement next week

Dozens call for end to China-EU extradition agreement at ‘Global Prayer for China’ next week

With the situation in Xinjiang under intense worldwide scrutiny, the international community is once again turning its attention to China’s human rights record. Recently, Christians around the world are planning a “Global Prayer for China” campaign to raise more awareness about religious persecution in China. In addition, dozens of exiled Chinese activists have written to European Union member states calling on them to end their extradition agreements with China.

We have learned that Christians from six continents are planning a “Global Prayer for China” campaign, calling on believers to pray for Chinese churches and people, including persecuted Uighurs in Xinjiang, prisoners of conscience, Christian clergy, activists and others, from the 23rd to the 30th of this month. The campaign calls on the faithful to pray for the Church and people in China, including persecuted Xinjiang Uighurs, prisoners of conscience, Christian clergy, activists and Hong Kong people in detention, from the 23rd to the 30th of this month.

Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, president of the Association of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, called on the global faithful this March to pray for the Catholic Church in China and all Chinese people during the last week of May (online poll)

Week of Prayer for China

The campaign is a response by Christians everywhere to a recent statement by Archbishop Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, president of the Association of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, the reporter learned on the official website. In March, he announced to the global faithful that, on behalf of the Catholic Church in Asia, he was calling on them to pray for the Catholic Church in China and all Chinese people during the last week of May. Back in 2007, then-Pope Benedict XVI designated May 24 each year as a global day of prayer for the Catholic Church in China, and Maung Bo hopes to extend the day into a week of prayer.

Sheng Xue, a Chinese-Canadian activist involved in the planning of the event, told the station Friday that they hope to raise awareness of religious persecution in China.

“China has the largest number of victims of religious persecution in the world, and such a scale is not allowed in the modern civilized and democratic society we live in, so we hope to raise maximum awareness of the issue.”

She also revealed that the event will consist of two main parts, a press conference and a forum, and that the entire event is planned to be held online, considering that the New Crown epidemic is still spreading. The organizers will invite several people who have long been concerned about religious persecution in China to speak to the public about the need to launch a campaign like “Pray for China.

Catholic media outlet AsiaNews recently reported that participants in the event include U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, Canadian MP Garnett Genuis, and Benedict Rogers, founder of the British human rights organization Hong Kong Monitor. Benedict Rogers, founder of the British human rights organization Hong Kong Monitor, and other political figures, activists and academics.

Open Doors, an international Christian charity, released its annual report “World Watch List” earlier this year, which ranked China among the top 20 countries worldwide in terms of Christian persecution. The report notes that there are nearly 100 million Christians in China, but in recent years, authorities have cracked down on both the official and underground churches with increasing severity. The organization estimates that more than 3,000 Chinese churches will be “attacked or closed” between November 2019 and October 2020, far more than in any other country.

Sheng Xue said she hopes the campaign will prompt more prominent people from all walks of life to say “no” to religious persecution in China.

“Anyone, especially some of the more influential people, such as some national leaders, political figures, social activists and others who have a voice in various fields, should speak out to a greater extent on this issue.”

Luo Guancong, Ai Weiwei and 55 other exiles co-sign a petition calling for the full annulment of all China-EU extradition agreements (Photo by Radio Free Asia Cantonese Group)

Calling for an end to extradition agreements

On the other hand, former Hong Kong legislator Luo Guancong, renowned Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, World Vision President Dolkun Isa and 55 other Chinese activists who have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party and exiled overseas sent a joint letter on Wednesday to various parties, including the European Council and European Commission presidents and member states, calling on EU member states to end all extradition agreements with China.

The letter said that Europe is a refuge for many Chinese activists in exile, but 10 EU member states still maintain extradition agreements with China, including France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Lithuania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. These agreements not only threaten their freedom of movement within the EU, but also impede their freedom of association and expression.

They also said that despite EU member states’ commitment that they would not allow other countries to abuse extradition agreements for the purpose of silencing opposition politicians, the Chinese government has long circumvented these restrictions by accusing the individuals concerned of economic crimes.

Notably, the European Parliament just passed a resolution on Thursday to freeze the ratification process of the EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CIA) with a high vote until China lifts sanctions against European lawmakers and entities over the Xinjiang issue. In addition, the Lithuanian Parliament on the same day found China guilty of “genocide” against the Uighurs, with whom Lithuania is one of the countries that have an extradition agreement.

Zumretay Arkin, one of the signatories of the joint letter and head of the World Uighur Congress initiative, said she believes the EU will act given the increasingly heavy international pressure China is facing on human rights issues.

“I don’t think the EU can ignore the letter because it has been co-signed by a large number of activists from different groups. Many of the co-signers of the letter are members of NGOs and civil society organizations, and we will put pressure on the EU in different ways.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s Foreign Ministry previously said regarding the suspension of extradition agreements between some countries and Hong Kong that it was interfering in China’s internal affairs and violating international law and basic norms of international relations.