In 2020, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed a vague and sweeping National Security Law (NSL) on Hong Kong. Designed to strangle dissent, the law has been used to crack down on freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. The CCP has started to use the law to stifle religious freedom in Hong Kong while signaling that much tougher measures are yet to come.
Religious persecution in Hong Kong has not been as serious as it is in mainland China. Authorities in Hong Kong are not yet destroying religious symbols or banning people from attending houses of worship. But religious leaders are being pressured to promote Chinese Communist Party priorities. Sermons are expected to demand of churchgoers that they adhere to socialist values and accept national security enforcement. Support for human rights and social justice causes are banned. The curricula of religious schools now are mixed
with national identity-based curricula. Chinese state flags are required in classrooms as are flag-raising ceremonies.
Persons of faith are targeted under the NSL and other laws. Many have been directly affected by the change of political climate, experiencing oppression of their religious practices. Most are reluctant to speak out given the chilling effect the NSL creates in society at large and the pressure from within their own religious communities to stay silent.
Religious freedom in Hong Kong is deteriorating. Eyewitnesses contributing to this report detail the ways in which the Chinese Communist Party is pressuring — if not persecuting — religious people and institutions in Hong Kong. Warning signs of what’s to come include Beijing’s Sinicization of religion, the use of religious education for indoctrination, the intimidation of clergy, self-censorship, and direct attacks on religion and the faithful.
This report recommends that the U.S. government and other democracies hold the Hong Kong authorities and lawmakers accountable for undermining the freedom of religion, advocate for the release of religious prisoners of conscience, and continue to monitor the deterioration of religious freedom in Hong Kong.
The report further recommends that the Vatican, Islamic states, and religious leaders speak up for religious prisoners of conscience, take steps to better understand the situation of religious communities in Hong Kong and China, and stop compromising the values of their faith to further the CCP’s political agenda.
To read more, download the PDF above. Frances Hui is the author of this report and the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the Committee for Freedom in
Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation.