16 October 2010

China is at it again!


We should hardly be surprised when the People's Republic of China, a nation known for its utter cruelty in how it treats its citizens and its complete disregard for human life throws someone in prison for disagreeing with the government. This time, though, it happens to be the most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo.

Liu was involved in the Tienanmen Square incident in the 1980s and has campaigned for human rights ever since. He has been imprisoned several times, and is currently serving a prison sentence now, according to news sources. His crime appears to be nothing more than disagreeing with the government.

I do not inherently call Liu Xiaobo a saint or even a crusader. Indeed, I do not know all that much about him. Certainly not enough to form an opinion. What I do know, though, is that China has responded in its typical paranoid fashion. The news today was full of reports of the crackdown on individual freedom by the Chinese government. They have engaged in heavy censorship on the internet over this matter as well. The rest of the details can easily be obtained from international news sources.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a government that feels it must block facts and censor the truth from its people. It surely must be running scared for fear that if the people knew the truth, they would rise up and end the tyrannical reign of the communists in China. It is no wonder that they might be feeling this way. After all, that's how they themselves gained power under Mao Zedong.

China's history of working against Christ's Holy Church is also well known. I also faced harassment of a much milder sort at the hands of the Chinese government. When attempting to get the visa necessary to go to China for a vacation with my family, I was stonewalled by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul because of my status as a priest. I first had to write a letter saying that I was going on vacation and was not going to China for any religious purposes. Then they wanted this document handwritten and sealed with my thumbprint, along with a complete and detailed itinerary. I finally got the visa, of course...once I promised the that the simple truth was true, viz., that I was going to China for a vacation, not specific "religious purposes." I should add here that I had already been to China several times on business before, including once to present a paper at a university on faith and economics, without any problems. Nevertheless, all this uproar so a priest could go on vacation? What are they so afraid of?

A little visa harassment is nothing, though, compared to what our Christian brethren have suffered at the hands of the communist Chinese government. We must continue to pray for our brethren trapped there, and pray that they are successful in maintaining the faith. Things are in many ways probably better there for Christians than they used to be, but religious freedom is hardly the case in the People's Republic of China. It is time for their government either to allow freedom of religion and respect life, freedom, and human rights, or else it is time that their government is instead replaced with one that safeguards the rights of the people.