CDC quietly admits cloth facemasks were nothing but political theater. Mask mandates have always been more about showing compliance than keeping people safe, and the CDC’s latest embarrassing disclosure further proves it.
A mainland Chinese woman, that worked as a prostitute in Hong Kong, looks out from inside a police van September 19, 2002 before being sent back to China. A total of 85 prostitutes from mainland China were arrested during a raid at the territory’s Shum Shui Po district, Hong Kong police said. (Photo: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)
“Pastors” in Pakistan are being paid by sex traffickers to find brides for Chinese men among their church congregations, a disturbing new report has revealed.
The Associated Press reports that sex traffickers offer Christian parents in Pakistan thousands of dollars to give girls in marriage to Chinese men. Pakistan’s Christian community makes a vulnerable target, notes the report, as the religious group is among the country’s most impoverished and makes up just 2.5% of the population.
Christian pastors are paid by sex traffickers to preach to their congregations with promises of wealth in exchange for their daughters. Parents receive a few thousand dollars and are promised about $280 a month in future payments as well as a Chinese visa for a male family member. They’re also told their new sons-in-law are wealthy Christian converts.
However, that’s rarely the case, notes the Associated Press, which interviewed over a dozen Christian Pakistani brides or would-be brides who fled before exchanging vows.
Once the brides arrive in China, many of them forced to live in rural, isolated towns. With a significant language barrier, they are subject to abuse and forced to rely on a translation app to communicate with their husbands.
Muqadas Ashraf, who was 16 when her parents married her off to a Chinese man last year, returned to Pakistan less than five months later, pregnant and seeking a divorce.
“It is all fraud and cheating. All the promises they make are fake,” she said.
One pastor who leads an evangelical church in Gujranwala, a city north of Lahore, told the AP of a fellow pastor who tells his flock, “God is happy because these Chinese boys convert to Christianity. They are helping the poor Christian girls.” He revealed that in that city alone, over 100 girls have disappeared.
Rizwan Rashid, a parishioner at the city’s Roman Catholic St. John’s Church, said that two weeks earlier, a car pulled up to him outside the church gates. Two Pakistani men and a Chinese woman inside asked him if he knew of any girls who want to marry a Chinese man.
“They told me her life would be great,” he said. They were willing to pay him to help, but he said he refused because the church’s priest often warns his congregation against such marriages.
The AP notes that in Pakistan, girls are seen as less desirable than boys and as a burden because the bride’s family must pay a dowry and the cost of the wedding when they marry. By contrast, potential Chinese grooms offer parents money and pay all wedding expenses.
Ijaz Alam Augustine, the human rights and minorities minister in Pakistan’s Punjab province, told the AP that “greed is really responsible for these marriages.”
“I have met with some of these girls and they are very poor,” he said.
The AP reports that since October, thousands of girls have been forced into sham marriages, some as young as 13 years old.
In April, Human Rights Watch called on China and Pakistan to take action to end bride trafficking, pointing to “increasing evidence that Pakistani women and girls are at risk of sexual slavery in China.”
Last month, the embassy said China was cooperating with Pakistani law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal matchmaking, Reuters reports.
On Monday, Pakistani authorities arrested 12 suspected members of a prostitution ring taking young Pakistani women to China, according to the South China Morning Post. A senior official at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore, capital of Punjab province, said a female Chinese national and a fake Pakistani priest were among the detainees.
China’s total Christian population is now thought to number anywhere between 25 million and 100 million people Photo: GETTY Getty Images
A local government communications agency in China recently held a seminar to discuss with Communist Party members the “enormous harm” Christianity is to the atheist nation and identify ways to stunt its growth.
According to Chinese Christian persecution watchdog China Aid, the event, titled “Christianity’s Enormous Harm on China’s Security,” was held on April 22 in the city of Hebi in China’s Henan province.
According to the NGO, the seminar encouraged party members to avoid being persuaded by Christian ideology and to sustain “correct views” when it comes to religion.
“The Chinese government often views religions, including Christianity, as foreign attempts to undermine its rule, even though there is no evidential basis for such a claim,” China Aid reports. “As a result, they often try to suppress religious adherents, and they openly forbid Communist Party members from practicing a religion.”
UCANews.com reports that the Hebi Municipal Radio Administrative Bureau in Henan publicly admitted to holding the seminar on its WeChat page.
“It said the seminar was to help members correctly understand Christianity and prevent the occurrence of ideological deviations,” notes the outlet. However, the WeChat message was deleted only two days after it was released.
Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society, estimated in 2017 that there are anywhere from 93 million to 115 million Christians in a nation of over 1.3 billion people, reports the South China Morning Post. It’s estimated China is on track to have the largest Christian population in the world by 2030.
In efforts to control the growth and spread of Christianity, Communist authorities have shut down a number of prominent house churches and arrested Christians and church leaders for worshiping without the approval of the government. It has also cracked down on the online sale of Bibles; the Bible is printed in China but legally available only at church bookstores.
Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told ucanews.com that the Hebi seminar reflects the Chinese government’s increasing controls of ideology in China through telecommunications and internet networks.
Ying explained that China’s Communist Party has tended in recent years to exhibit extensive social management “through nonreligious ways to deal with religious issues.”
“[T]herefore it is no longer a single religious department to manage religion, but the joint effort of different departments to manage all around,” Ying explained, adding that he believes that President Xi Jinping is part of the effort to claim religion is a threat in China.
In light of these abuses, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom listed China as a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom violations in its 2019 annual report.
Speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in April, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback identified China as a particularly oppressive, systematic persecutor of Christians, demonstrated by the destruction of churches and the arrest of pastors and religious adherents.
“Unfortunately, the United States is one of the few countries willing to stand up to China,” Brownback said. “We need more allies to stand up to them, particularly on these issues of human rights and religious persecution.”
Christian communicators, he emphasized, play an important role in combating religious persecution and alerting the public of the sobering reality Christians around the world face every day.
“We need a grassroots uprising saying, ‘No more to religious persecution. No more,'” Brownback said. “It’s through the reporting and story-telling that you do, of organizations like yours that can serve as catalysts for advocacy.”
The camera lens homes in, mapping the man’s face—measuring the space between his eyes, the distance between the nose and mouth, the angle of his cheekbones, the shape of his chin. Instantly, that data is converted into a string of numbers or points, called a “faceprint.”
His face is recognized, compared with tens of millions of photos of faces in a database. His identity is confirmed. And he doesn’t even know he has been “detected,” “recognized” and “tracked.”
You’ve seen the images in movies. Many of us willingly submit our “data” every day, holding up our phone as the operating system algorithm detects, identifies and recognizes our face.
This is the mass AI technology that China has developed. And it is one of the most powerful surveillance tools—and Christian persecution tactics—ever made, especially when you consider that the country has installed millions of these cameras on streets, in public venues, on university campuses—and churches.
Facial recognition tech in all state-approved churches.
Reports from counties in Henan and Jiangxi provinces say cameras with facial recognition software are now in all state-approved religious venues.
China maintains it moved decisively to contain COVID-19 after the virus took flight in Wuhan, but for the country’s 97 million Christians, the cost in heavy restrictions—as surveillance reached into their homes, online and off-line interactions were tracked, and their faces were scanned into the Public Security database—is high.
Reports from counties in Henan and Jiangxi provinces say cameras with facial recognition software are now in all state-approved religious venues. Churches that have refused to install these cameras have been fined raided and even banned, like the 1,500-member Zion Church in northern Beijing.
In April 2018, Zion Church, one of the Chinese capital’s largest house churches, received a letter from city officials asking them to install 24 surveillance cameras in their sanctuary for “security reasons.”
“The church decided this was not appropriate,” Zion Church Pastor Ezra Jin told Reuters. “Our services are a sacred time.”
After the church refused, state security officials and police began to harass churchgoers, contacting their workplaces and asking them to promise not to go to church. In August 2018, authorities threatened to close Zion Church because they refused to install the cameras. A month later, officials banned the church and confiscated materials.
Zion leaders understood what the government was asking. Reportedly, many of these cameras are installed next to standard CCTV cameras, but they link to the Public Security Bureau, meaning artificial intelligence can instantly connect with other government databases. The facial recognition software will eventually be linked to China’s “Social Credit System,” which monitors the loyalty of citizens with regards to the tenets of communism. With 415 million surveillance cameras and counting, the state has the infrastructure and legal framework to pressure religious minorities in both direct and indirect ways we’ve never seen before.
And these potentially detrimental systems are spreading beyond China.