“What the Chinese communists are doing is trying to eliminate a whole people,” says Commissioner Gary Bauer of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The U.S. government, in the last full day of the Trump presidency, determined that the People’s Republic of China, under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, is committing genocide against the Uyghur people.
Beyond mass imprisonment and forced sterilizations of Uyghurs, the Chinese regime is persecuting Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, and Christians for their religious beliefs. In churches, artistic renderings of Jesus are being replaced with images of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
And the Chinese Communist Party is seeking to expand its repressive model abroad. It may soon be able to “create an authoritarian bloc around the world, a group of countries depending on Chinese technology, Chinese financial assistance, perhaps Chinese military help,” says Commissioner Bauer.
“That authoritarian bloc of dictators, despots, and countries like communist China…could become a major rival to the Western democracies,” he added.
In this episode, we sit down with Commissioners Gary Bauer and James Carr of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Commissioner Gary Bauer, so great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Gary Bauer: Always great to be with you.
Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Bauer, it’s been almost two years since we spoke last. We’re at a historic moment, at least to my eye right now. The U.S. government, the State Department, has designated the treatment of Uyghurs in China as a genocide. I, quite frankly, didn’t expect the U.S. government to ever designate any activity by the Chinese Communist Party that way. It’s a very welcome moment from my perspective but I would love it if you could tell us, what is the real significance of this?
Mr. Bauer: Let me just say, first, from the standpoint of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, that news from Secretary Pompeo was greeted with great glee. We’ve been working with the State Department in the White House for some time now to try to get that designation and I think it’s very significant.
Of course, Secretary Pompeo didn’t do this by himself. He made the announcement but he wouldn’t have done this without consultation with [then] President Donald Trump. To their credit, the Trump-Pence-Pompeo administration made religious liberty, and specifically made pressuring China to open up on religious liberty and to stop violating human rights, a big part of the relationship between our two countries [in] the last four years.
So this really was a breakthrough. We were very excited that it happened, and it sends a message, I think, around the world to international organizations about how serious what’s going on in China is with the Uyghurs, and not only with the Uyghurs but with every other religious group in communist China.
I hope it also sends a signal, if I may say so, to those here in the United States who continue to deceive themselves, who continue to believe that you can do business with China and it can be to your benefit, that doing business with China may end up changing China, when I think as we’ve seen time and time again, doing business with China changes us.
I’m talking here not only about American business which is the obvious thing— corporations that want to fatten their bottom lines by setting up factories in China and not looking too closely about whether the employees in those factories are actually real employees or whether they’re people that we would call, in this country, slave labor.
But I would also point to American universities. They continue to form partnerships with communist China, and I think what they end up doing is ultimately losing any credibility [that] those universities have as being places that respect human rights and human dignity.
So what Secretary Pompeo did in these closing days of this administration that just ended was incredibly important, and I think it’ll go down in history, one of the things they did in the last few days they had in office.
Mr. Jekielek: This is super interesting. A little bit more into the weeds here. Of course, the Genocide Convention came about as a result of the Holocaust with the idea, “never again”—this should never happen again. Unfortunately, we’ve seen genocides, by that definition, multiple times since 1948 in all sorts of contexts. Why is the genocide versus the crimes against humanity, which I guess is the next level underneath that designation, so significant?
Mr. Bauer: Essentially, the genocide designation means that the facts to our government indicate that what the Chinese communists are doing is trying to eliminate a whole people, in this case, Chinese Uyghur Muslims, to literally wipe them off the face of the earth. Now, the Chinese are being a little bit more nuanced about it than the first example that we had in the horrible event of the Holocaust, which led to a World War and even millions more people being destroyed.
But I don’t think there can be any doubt by any reasonable observer that what the Chinese communist are doing is so restricting the Uyghur people and intentionally setting out to take their birth rate down to zero, using all sorts of tactics that I think in a good bit of America, we still have a hard time believing that in 2021, a country would still be capable of.
But what the secretary of state and the president have done here is say, yes, that is exactly what they’re doing. It makes it very hard for any decent person, any real organization in the world that wants respect, any country in the world that claims to stand for human dignity, it makes it very hard for them to look the other way and to go into denial about what’s happening once a country like the United States has made this sort of designation. So it’s really a very important moment in exposing communist China, I believe.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re just reminding me, one of these methods of reducing the birth rate, which of course means negative population growth and so forth, was through this forced sterilization. And then there was this bizarre tweet from no less than the Chinese Embassy in the USA talking about celebrating that in the name of “women’s rights.”
It was one of the most bizarre things. I had to check three times, basically, to believe that they would actually publish this from their official government mission account. I think it stayed on Twitter for three days before someone thought that advocating genocide, maybe that crosses the line.
Mr. Bauer: Twitter’s too busy censoring American political figures, I guess, than to be on top of censoring the things that go out from people like this ambassador that you’re talking about. Yes, that was a bizarre moment because it appeared that he actually thought this would be an argument that he could make that would appeal to some sort of sensibility in the West and in the United States and Western Europe and so forth.
I don’t know what exactly he was appealing to, other than, I suppose, this growing view over the years that women have been liberated from being constantly held down by having to raise children. But to make that kind of an argument when you’re sterilizing women against their wills in prison camps, either the Chinese communist think we are really stupid or they are a lot more stupid than we think they are. That doesn’t pass the straight face tests and fortunately, it fell flat on its face.
Mr. Bauer: I couldn’t help but smile a little because generally, in the world of diplomacy, you pick people that have a little nuance, that are able to make arguments in a way that draws people to your cause. This gentleman, and I use the word sarcastically, this ambassador ought to lose his job if he thought that you can make a case for the forcible sterilization of women.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s still baffling to me but in a sense, knowing what we know about the Chinese Communist Party, perhaps not as baffling as it might be good for it to be. Gary, tell me, what are the sort of the elements in this specific case of the Uyghur people that bring together this argument for genocide?
Mr. Bauer: There’s been the mass movement of Uyghur Muslims out of their homes. Before that even happened, there was a level of surveillance down to the kind of detail that again, I think most Americans would be astonished by. The Chinese communists have organized a surveillance state that really is, and it’s a worn out phrase but there’s no better way to describe it than Orwellian. In many Chinese communist cities, it’s organized down to the block level so your neighbor may be spying on you.
But even when your neighbor is not spying on you, there are now hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras employing artificial intelligence all over communist China. They can pick up things as simple as, are you talking to your neighbors as much as you used to, because if you’re not talking to them as much as you used to, maybe you’re up to no good. If you used to leave your house by the front door, are you now more frequently leaving your house by the back door, which could be evidence that you’re trying to hide your movements. So there’s all this surveillance going on.
And then there’s monitoring of the Uyghur children in schools, or you have communist Chinese teachers asking those children probing questions about what their parents or grandparents may be up to in the house, what are they teaching you, are they telling you that your religion is more important than the nation of China, or more important than Chinese communism? Then we began to see the forcible relocation of whole Uyghur families, or the taking of Uyghur men particularly, out of the household. We even have reports that members of the Chinese Communist Party have been put into Uyghur households to spy on the families.
Again, unimaginable in the 21st century. And then we have this euphemism which quite frankly is right out of the Nazi playbook of setting up what essentially are concentration camps, but calling them “work centers” or “educational centers” where the Chinese Uyghurs will be “taught skills that help them to have a better chance of succeeding” in Chinese communist society. That better hope of succeeding is to forget your religion and adopt the Chinese communist way or you won’t be able to have a life to live at all.
So it’s all of those things that I would hope any American community would bristle against. But it’s happening on a scale that’s unimaginable, and it really is the modern day equivalent of what we saw happen in Germany in the 1930s and then spread with Nazism as it conquered a good bit of Europe.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s very interesting. Having a Holocaust survivor in my family on my wife’s side, I’ve always avoided that connection because it was such an extreme case. But lately, I’ve just been thinking, this regime, in so many ways, mirrors things that even I learned about in a film I produced, learning deeper about what happened during the Holocaust, about my father-in-law. It’s an amazing connection.
Even Jewish leaders in the UK, I’ve learned, have taken the step of basically saying, it’s reasonable, like you said, to make this comparison to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. A couple of things—I think we covered there is this forced sterilization to reduce the population. There are some other methods they’re using to basically prevent Uyghur births.
Mr. Bauer: Right. I’m not sure I know all the details, but I know they are regularly checking whether Uyghur women are pregnant or not, and there are reports, and there have been in the past, of forced abortions. In America, we have a big debate about pro-life, pro-choice, and so forth. I don’t think anybody in the United States, no matter where they are on that debate, would ever be in favor of forced abortions. That’s something that one can only imagine in what increasingly is in a totalitarian society.
For forced abortions to be done on the basis of trying to eliminate a particular ethnic group or racial group is so beyond the pale, so much into the realm of pure evil, that I think again, it’s very hard for Americans, even in a country right now that has, as we do, our own challenges, to imagine that a rising power like communist China, a country that its military is getting stronger every day, who is projecting that power around the world, who is selling their surveillance cameras now to several 100 countries around the world, that would be disturbing to, again, anybody that believes in the innate human dignity, value, and worth of every human being.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s truly remarkable. The part that also connects this whole thing, to me, to Germany in the 30s and 40s, is the business that’s being done by companies all over the world, multinationals and so forth in China, and you even have the EU ready to sign a trade deal amidst all of these realities. I actually just saw a compilation by one of our journalists of how much money is simply invested directly into Chinese companies, some of which are serious national security implications even for the U.S. and so forth. It’s a staggering umpteen billions of dollars.
Mr. Bauer: It is. Over the years, one of the issues, I’ve spent a great deal of time on is anti-Semitism. I’ve tried to be a very good friend to the American Jewish community and be an advocate against anti-Semitism, whether it’s here in the United States or any place else. So just like you, I don’t likely throw around words like genocide, but it fits in this case.
You mentioned the phrase “never again.” That phrase meant that never again will a country be allowed to do that to a whole group of people. But “never again,” I think, also meant, never again will free men and women look the other way or cooperate with a nation that is engaged in this.
I have to say, I’m a big sports fan probably because I was never good enough to play sports myself. I love watching people succeed in athletics, and we’ve seen a lot of American athletes become voices for social justice here in the United States, but I’m still reeling, from a couple of years ago, when a coach or an owner of one of the NBA teams sided with Hong Kong against mainland communist China. Communist China, of course, went berserk and threatened the NBA, and it was astonishing to me to see these multimillion dollar American basketball players dreaming of becoming even more wealthy by having NBA equivalents be established in communist China.
To this day, I don’t see American corporations that are eager to signal [that] they’re for social justice here in the United States, and then they turn around and they’re building more factories in communist China. They’re doing work in the very province where the Uyghur Muslim camps are set up.
I watch a company like Walt Disney that does one of their very popular movies, and at the end of the movie in which they did some of the filmings in communist China, they not only thanked the Chinese government, they thanked the police force in the province that has the responsibility of persecuting, among other things, the Uyghur Muslims. So the phrase, “never again,” is looking more and more as if it’s a phrase of mockery to significant powerful portions of American society.
Your viewers may know that I’m a conservative and my background is Republican. I was appointed by President Trump. I’ve been a defender of American business over the years. I believe in free enterprise. But I condemn American business to the extent that they are willing to do business in a country like communist China.
By doing business in a country like communist China, it not only contributes to the persecution of the Chinese people of all faiths, to the violation of human rights in China at a scale almost unmatched around the world, but they are also helping to make communist China more economically powerful, more militarily powerful, in a way that will jeopardize the national security of the people of the United States and the people of the other Western democracies.
Mr. Jekielek: My own little commentary here. We had 30, 40-plus years to learn the fact that we’re not going to change communist China into a free democratic state, which I think was the vision through all this corporate engagement, let’s say. It’s almost like it’s gone in the other direction.
Mr. Bauer: No question about it. Many years ago, I was heading up an organization, was the founder of a group called the Family Research Council, and that was right after I left the Reagan administration. I made opposition to giving communist China most favored nation status, trade status, one of our main issues. I’m even now sad to report that I lost a number of very wealthy donors to the Family Research Council who agreed with me on a whole host of issues about family values and the sanctity of life and other things like that, but were themselves involved with companies they had started that were hoping to break into the Communist Chinese market. They made it very clear to me, they wanted me to drop that issue, and I would not drop it, and so they cease to be donors to the Family Research Council. I’m still proud that I took on that position.
I remember a presidential debate I was in, in 2000, with then George W. Bush before he was elected president. We were in a Republican presidential debate and one of the things we got into a heated exchange about was most favored nation status for China. George W. Bush turned to me and he said, Gary, we must do business with the entrepreneurial class in communist China—although I think he just said, in China. And he said, if we will do that, if we will do business with that entrepreneurial class, you’ll be shocked that how quickly freedom will come to China.
I found that clip the other day and I decided to write a letter to George W. Bush, and I said: President Bush, I came across this clip when you and I debated this. You may remember it. You said [that] I would be shocked about how fast freedom would come to communist China. I was just wondering if you had an estimated time of arrival because it’s been 21 years and quite the contrary, not only is freedom not arriving in China, oppression under President Xi is greater now in many, many ways than it was when we thought, 20-some years ago, that trade with China would change them—when in fact, that’s changed us.
Mr. Jekielek: It was very good to see in the Senate confirmation hearings for secretary of state nominee, Antony Blinken, that he agrees with the previous state department leadership’s designation of genocide here in this case.
Mr. Bauer: Yes, I was very encouraged by that too. Now, having been up for confirmation in the United States Senate a couple of times myself, let me just say that when you’re having your confirmation hearings and you’re worried about a narrowly divided committee, you may say things that then when you actually are confirmed, you don’t follow through on. But I found it helpful, and I hope he was being honest about that, and the proof will be in the pudding if he is confirmed as secretary of state.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s broaden this. We’ve been talking about the impact of communist China, I suppose, on America and the business relationships. Almost two years ago when we spoke last, you described the idea that communist China has actually declared war on all faiths, all religions, and I want to see how has that changed or how has that come along over the last two years since we spoke?
Mr. Bauer: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was set up by an act of Congress and in that law, there’s an outline for the words we use, what we’re supposed to call a country that is violating basic human rights, and specifically violating the most basic human rights of all which is to seek God and worship God as your heart and soul tells you to. We’re supposed to call those countries that violate that basic right, CPC, Country of Particular Concern. And every time we call a country a Country of Particular Concern, I will confess to you, I want to scream. It’s such a bureaucratic term.
When you’re concerned about something, it’s like, I’m concerned about how heavy the traffic is getting. We’re talking about countries that are murdering people, that are putting people in prison, that are breaking up families, that are raiding churches and mosques and temples. So I’ve always said, when I’ve been talking particularly about communist China, that they, in fact, are more than a Country of Particular Concern. They’re a country that has indeed declared war on religious faith.
The Chinese communists cannot tolerate anyone in communist China having loyalty to something that they see as higher than the Chinese communists. So it’s a competition to them, and it’s a threat, it’s something that keeps the Chinese communists awake at night. So we’ve actually got now, things that I didn’t think I would ever see in a country that has the sort of great history that China has, history that goes back thousands of years. But they’re actually taking President Xi and they’re trying to have him replace the most revered religious figures of various faiths in communist China.
So churches are being told to take down artistic renderings of Jesus, for example, and to replace them with photos of President Xi. There’s an effort underway in China to sinicize the Bible by rewriting the Bible, so that it’s more consistent with Chinese communism than it is with the Christian gospel.
That’s sacrilege to a Christian. I’m a Christian and it’s a sacrilege. No Christian can allow that to happen. They’re doing the same thing with the Chinese versions of the Qur’an. They’re doing the same thing with Tibetan Buddhists where temples have been torn down, damage, sacred symbols taken out of these places of worship.
And then we know that in many of these places of worship, if you’re a religious believer in China and your faith gives you the courage, in spite of all that’s likely to happen to you, to continue to go to your religious services, you know that when you walk into that temple or into that church or into your place of worship, that when you walk into the religious sanctuary there, there’s a camera in the church that is filming your face and using artificial intelligence facial recognition.
Your presence in that place of worship has been sent to computers controlled by the Chinese communists, and it’s gone into the risk assessment of who you are and how much you will be trusted in Chinese society.
We get down to not only you may not get a promotion you deserve, you may not get the job you applied for, or your children may not get into the university they wanted to go to, but literally, this has been taken down to the level of, you could get on a bus in a particular province and show your ID card to the computer that’s on the bus, and the bus driver could look at the readout and say, “I’m sorry, get off the bus. You’re not allowed to travel outside this neighborhood,” or “You’re not allowed to travel outside this province.”
So this is a level of persecution of religious believers that other tyrants around the world can only dream of having. That’s why I’m so worried and many others are worried that communist China’s not only violating human rights and suppressing religious liberty, but they’re in danger of being able to create an authoritarian bloc around the world.
A group of countries depending on Chinese technology, Chinese financial assistance, perhaps Chinese military help, and that bloc, that authoritarian bloc of dictators, despots, and countries like communist China, I think very much could become a major rival to the Western democracies, setting themselves up as an example to other dictators of how you can have economic growth, perhaps.
You might be able to improve the lot of your people [by] bringing them into the modern world but you can do it while still denying them the basic human rights and human dignity that every human being deserves. So I think it’s very much an open question of what the next 50 years will show, whether the vision of the Western free democracies based on the human dignity of every person, or whether this authoritarian bloc that communist China seems to be establishing will become the model for the emerging world to follow in the decades ahead.
Mr. Jekielek: This is, frankly, particularly disturbing. I hadn’t made the connection before because now we’re talking about genocide, the official designation of genocide. The persecution of the Tibetan people has also been described as a genocide, potentially, certainly a crime against humanity, certainly cultural genocide. Similarly, the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners has been described as a slow genocide, the murder for organs industry focusing on these people because of their numbers, presumably, and health.
So what struck me as you’re describing this, and of course, all of these surveillance technologies were built to some extent on the persecution of these groups, to this more twisted, perfected, setup that’s now manifest in Xinjiang. Now, you could actually export the technology to facilitate this sort of genocidal behavior.
Mr. Bauer: That’s exactly right and I think that is already underway. I don’t think we fully understand the extent of it. There have been a couple of articles I’ve seen in surprising places worried about this possibility. We’ve also seen how the Chinese communist government is becoming more and more active in international bodies that are involved with human rights and religious liberty issues, and they’re trying to use their power, and influence, and their money to change the definition of what human rights and religious liberty is in those international bodies.
So this is a many front war that we’re in and in order to win it, it’s not going to happen with one administration. I think the Trump-Pence administration made tremendous progress in moving the country away from thinking about communist China only as a trading partner and seeing it for what it is: more than a competitor but I would argue, an adversary of the United States. I’m hoping that the Biden-Harris administration will continue on the path that President Trump and Vice President Pence laid out.
But even if they do, it’s going to take the administration after them and the administration after them. This is a hole that we’ve gotten ourselves in over the last 30 or 40 years, and it’s going to take several decades to get out of it. And meantime, with every passing day, a communist China with all of its oppression is more of a threat to its neighbors, more of a threat to our interests around the world, and it’s becoming more and more open about its intentions to right what they see wrongs, as wrongs that were done to the Chinese people in the past.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s difficult to seem terribly hopeful here, especially looking at how quickly this reality in Xinjiang for the Uyghur people has expanded into its current genocidal state, to see how quickly the freedoms in Hong Kong were crushed, where the rule of law went from existing to not existing in less than a year, as far as I can tell. So Commissioner Bauer, we’re going to finish up in a little bit but we also have a quick moment to speak with a relatively newer commissioner compared to you, Commissioner Jim Carr. And I’m wondering, I understand you’re friends, perhaps you could just introduce him for us.
Mr. Bauer: Commissioner Carr is really a wonderful colleague and a great guy. When you get a new commissioner, no matter who appoints them, you’re always looking to see whether that commissioner is going to be an ally on some of the things that you as a commissioner care about. I knew very, very soon that Commissioner Carr cares deeply about what’s going on in communist China, and the challenge that presents to the United States and what’s happening to Christians in communist China, as well as members of other religious faiths.
In fact, we are a bipartisan group. I think five of our commissioners had been appointed by Republicans, four by Democrats. Over the next four years, that balance will change. But we have seldom been divided about anything on the basis of ideology or Republican commissioners versus Democrat commissioners, and both Commissioner Carr and then another relatively new Commissioner Nury Turkel, who himself is an Uyghur Muslim and appointed by Democrats in the Congress, we have formed a very strong block on USCIRF, trying to make sure that we keep focus on what all of us believe is the greatest threat to religious liberty [that] the world is facing—that’s communist China.
Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner James Carr, really good to have you on American Thought Leaders.
James Carr: Thank you, Jan. Good to be with you.
Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Carr, you’re one of the three newest commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Tell me a bit about why you are doing this role. What does it mean to you?
Mr. Carr: I am a person of deep faith and I have thought, not just because of my Christian faith, but people of all faiths should have the freedom to worship around the world. I became familiar with this organization about a year and a half or two years ago, and I was honored when I was nominated for this position by Kevin McCarthy of California, and upon nomination, I accepted immediately. I just thought it would be a wonderful assignment. I must tell you, I have a full time job running a small company but this is my second job. It’s a big work.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me a little bit about what you’ve been able to do, and that’ll give us a bit of a picture of what USCIRF does.
Mr. Carr: The commission is made up of nine individuals as you know. Three appointed by the president, three by the Senate, and three by the House. The president’s party has five of the members and the other party has four. We serve as a team, and it’s incredible. You could go to one of these meetings, Jan, and you would not be able to tell who appointed who. These people work so well together. It’s just a delight to work with them. We monitor the countries of the world and there are about, I think, exactly 29 countries where there’s a problem with religious freedom, and our organization monitors those 29 countries right now.
Mr. Jekielek: You adopted a prisoner of conscience last year, which actually met with a positive result. Tell me about that system and tell me about what happened.
Mr. Carr: Each of the commissioners adopts three or four people, prisoners around the world who are in prison because of their faith. One of the gentlemen that I adopted was a gentleman named Pastor A Dao from Vietnam, a very sad story. Pastor A Dao had been to a conference on his faith out of the country. As soon as he arrived back in Vietnam, he was arrested and imprisoned for several years. His prison term was several years.
I adopted him and I got to know his family and got to know many of his fellow citizens in Vietnam. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago, I spoke to several thousand people put together by Boat People SOS in Vietnam. Shortly after that, we were thrilled that he was released and is now free to be involved in this ministry. He’s from the northern region of Vietnam, the mountain area, and in that country, Jan, there are many people in the rural part of the country who are picked up and imprisoned. We’re thrilled that he’s the first person, that I’ve had at least, released in my prisoners of conscience.
Mr. Jekielek: How is USCIRF perceived internationally? Why does the work of this organization impact, for example, the government of Vietnam to make a decision like this? How does that work?
Mr. Carr: In my short tenure on the commission, I would say this to you, there—as I mentioned a moment ago—are 29 countries, of which we monitor 15, the worst of the worst, and then 14 others that are bad, but not the worst. These countries do not want to be on the USCIRF list.
Even during my time with the organization, we have met with several ambassadors to the US. It’s very clear they do not want to be on the list. Many of them want to find out how they can get off. Of course, I think our work is successful when a country moves off the list then becomes a country that treats religious people with freedom.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s a super interesting thing. Tell me a bit about why—this is probably the best way I can put it, in the United States itself, religious freedom, of course, is a central tenant, in the First Amendment and so forth—why is it so important to have a structure that is promoting religious freedom internationally, from your perspective.
Mr. Carr: It goes back to 1948, when the United Nations voted to give basically a bill of rights, if you will, to every citizen of the world. One of those rights was the right to worship freely. Then in 1998, the International Religious Freedom Act [IRFA,] was put into practice in our country and USCIRF was founded. … I don’t know if you saw the release, just in the last day or two from Open Doors International out of the blue, that’s the Netherlands, 340 million Christians were persecuted last year, an amazing number. I think the report said 15 Christians are killed every day because of their faith, 14 churches are damaged, and people are kidnapped and raped.
It’s a horrible situation, not just with Christians. There have been more Muslims killed by other Muslims than any other group. Muslims are killing Muslims, and you have the divisions in Islam that are causing terrific problems in countries around the world.
Mr. Jekielek: As a Christian yourself, why is the guarantee of religious freedoms for other faiths so important to you?
Mr. Carr: How can I ask for that freedom for my people, if we don’t give it to everybody? I’m a deeply committed Christian. I want people of all faiths to have that freedom. Then I can require people to give my fellow Christian believers that freedom. So it’s very important to me that you treat others as you would have them treat you, the golden rule.
Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Carr gave us some ideas just now about what USCIRF is actually all about and what he hopes to accomplish in his tenure. Yours is coming to a close, I believe in May. What are you hoping to see happen or working to see happen before then, and what are your hopes for the future for this group?
Mr. Bauer: Well, I’m sad that I’ll be leaving at the end of May, but the new administration has the opportunity to make their appointments. I will be having another annual report, which is the main thing that USCIRF does every year, and that’ll be coming out in the spring or late spring. I would be sure in that report that we emphasize as strongly as we can what’s going on in communist China.
I’ve urged my fellow commissioners, and they’ve agreed to do this, that we not only do the regular country report on communist China, but that we do an addendum, an additional report on this subject that we talked about before you talk to Commissioner Carr—this question or this potential or possibility of communist China becoming a leader of an authoritarian block that’s dedicated to destroying religious liberty everywhere it’s reached. The Commission has agreed to do that. It really wasn’t much of an argument.
I don’t want to go into a lot of detail because we haven’t come out with that annual report yet. But all the commissioners see this point, and they want to address it. It’s another sign of the seriousness with which we take this issue. In addition to that, even though my tenure on the commission ends at the end of May, I was working on these issues long before I was a commissioner.
I’ve been a critic of communist China probably for four decades. In some ways, I’ll be even more liberated after my time on the commision, because being a commissioner, you have to be a little careful about what phrase is used, and so forth. I’ve actually been thinking about sometime in the early summer, maybe doing a major speech or in Washington at the National Press Club, or someplace else, in which I make the case that the greatest threat that the Western democracies face in the years ahead, is in fact the threat of a rising communist China and basically trying through that speech and other activities to alert the American people to the things that have to be done in the years ahead.
Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Gary Bauer, such a pleasure to have you on and wishing you Godspeed.
Mr. Bauer: My pleasure to be with you.
These interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.