In the wake of news of Beijing-backed hackers targeting the Catholic Church, U.S. religious freedom ambassador Sam Brownback has urged Vatican officials not to trust the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who he says is declaring war on faith.
“I would really hope that the Vatican would look at this and see what they are dealing with,” Brownback told Crux on July 29.
Brownback was speaking after reports that hackers linked to the Chinese state had infiltrated Vatican computer networks plus that of the Church’s Hong Kong Diocese, according to a US firm that tracks state-backed cyber attacks.
“If I were a Vatican official and seeing this is who I am dealing with, and this is how they are going to deal with me, it would cause me great pause to think about how can I trust and work with these other individuals that are spying on me,” he said.
The 67-year-old’s comments were also said as the Vatican and Beijing are expected to engage in talks this year over the renewal of a landmark 2018 deal on bishop appointments.
Brownback’s Crux interview likewise occurred during greater intentional concern over the CCP’s treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region where more than a million of the Turkic Muslim minority are being held in reeducation camps.
“The United States government has taken the most aggressive action of any nation in the world to push back against these human rights abuses coming out of Xinjiang and I would also tell people, it won’t stop in Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party is going to push these policies and these systems around the world,” Brownback said.
The ambassador further said noted it is not Uyghurs being targeted by the communist state but so are Christians, Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners.
“It’s a full-scale attack on all faiths,” he said.
Brownback, who converted to Catholicism in 2002, similarly condemned Beijing’s imposition of a harsh new security law in Hong Kong.
“They had a robust and free society, but you can just see that shrinking and the tentacles of the Communist Party going in,” he said adding that the Chinese regime signed a legally binding international agreement with the UK mandating “one country, two systems”.
“The Chinese government — the Communist Party — is violating this directly,” he said.
Throughout his Crux interview, Brownback repeatedly said his disapproval was aimed at China’s communist rulers, and not the Chinese people.
“My daughter is from China. I love the Chinese people, but the Communist Party is at war with faith, and communism has been from its inception, so this isn’t really anything new to communism,” he said.
Brownback — who was named US ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom in 2017 — was recently sanctioned by the CCP for his criticism of the regime’s human rights record.
“To get this designation because I was declaring and pointing out the war on faith that the Chinese Communist Party is doing, I deem that a badge of honor. I will take that,” he said.
The CCP also sanctioned US elected officials Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Chris Smith who are critical of the regime and its human rights record. The sanctions were put in place after Washington sanctioned four Chinese officials plus the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.