Translated from Diario Las Américas, Miami

The "Church of Silence" in China

and the Cuban exile

The Cuban exiles, with their enthusiastic adhesion to the
campaign for the liberation of Chinese Catholics, support
their brothers in the faith, victims of the same ideology "intrinsically
perverse" that enslaves their own country, and contribute to strengthen the reactions of widesectors of the American public opinion who are against closer relations
with communist China as well as with Castro's Cuba

Gonzalo Guimaraens

Until a few days ago, the names of Monsignor Fan, Monsignor Su and
Monsignor An - three Chinese Catholic bishops that are imprisoned today
in communist China - were practically unknown to Cuban exiles.
Nevertheless, a request for help received via Internet, from an
international campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of
these three bishops, stirred in the Cuban exile a moving reaction of
solidarity with their enslaved Chinese brothers.
This solidarity from the Cuban exile with the persecuted Catholics in
China, was manifested recently by the controversial visit to the United
States by the Chinese prime minister Zhu Rongji, while hundreds and
possibly thousands of messages rained upon the White House, the
Secretariat of State, the Chinese embassy in Washington and editorial
boards of important American newspapers, begging for the release of
bishops Msgr. Fan, Msgr. Su and Msgr. An, in an initiative in which the
newspaper Diario Las Américas informed thoroughly. The anti-Communist
Cubans give to the world an example which the majority ignores - or
looks at with indifference - the way of the cross through which the
Silent Church in communist China, is experiencing.
The Chinese Catholics are currently 12 million people, approximately
the same number of the total population in Cuba today. The persecution
against Catholics in China - which has been implacable since the triumph
of the communist revolution in 1949 - had a recurrence in 1995, when the
arrests of various bishops, priests and numerous faithful happened
again. In this new anti-religious assault, the pressures were increased
so that Catholics would sign up in the Patriotic Association of Bishops,
a "church" that is a front, without any bonding or allegiance with Rome,
notoriously collaborationist with communism. The regime is courteous to
the faithful who do not adhere to the Patriotic Association, giving them
water and electricity to their houses, but hinders the education of the
children of parents who are found to belong to this association and
condemns to prison those Catholics that are found praying in groups in
their own residences, informs the Vatican news agency Fides.
During his trip to China in 1998, president Clinton made a stop in
Shangai, and the Chinese catholic faithful to Rome, experienced one of
the most disappointing moments of their lives. While the "bishops" of
the Patriotic Association Jin Luxian, stated in front of the American
dignitary and TV cameras worldwide, that the religious practice does not
encounter any kind of obstacles in China, while just a few meters away,
the auxiliary bishop of Shangai, Msgr. Fan Zhong Liang, a Jesuit who is
80 years old, was being held in prison and uncommunicated in the
garrisons of the State Security. Msgr. Fan had lived over 20 years in
concentration camps, and continues being imprisoned today, as there are
contradictory information as to his whereabouts.
The bishop of Baoding, Msgr. Su Zhimin and his auxiliary, Msgr. An
Shuxin, 67 and 50 years of age respectively, were kidnapped 3 years ago
by the State Security, and there is no information about their
whereabouts today, affirms the news agency Fides. Nine other catholic
bishops are constantly being followed and controlled by the police and
at least there are 11 priests arrested.
The above did not stop the Chief of the Office of Religious Matters of
the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while visiting the United States in
1998,to declare without any scrupule, that in China there are no
"religious prisoners" but instead, individuals who "agitate the public
order." This is one of the accusations that the regime makes against
priests that celebrate Mass in places not authorized, or against the
faithful that simply get together to pray in their homes. Despite the
increased communist repression against the "Church of Silence" in China,
there are very few governments and "human rights" organizations that
have taken a position to start an initiative in favor of the unfortunate
Chinese Catholics.
Nevertheless, according to a survey made in 1998, also cited by the
news agency Fides, 70% of Americans believe that communist China is the
"No.1 enemy" of the United States. This number is highly encouraging, as
it reveals the so called "constructive compromise" of the actual American
administration policy towards the Chinese regime, it does not have the
popular backing, and it does indicate that a good number of Americans
would be willing to support accusations against the flagrant violations
of the rights of God and the Chinese men and women.
The persecution of communist China against Catholics, is beginning to
provoke indignation among those who love freedom. "We are not going to
allow the communist Chinese leaders to continue torturing with impunity,
Bishops, priests and lay Catholics," affirmed in Washington, Renata Y.
Jackson - director of the International Campaign for the liberation of
bishops Msgr. Fan, Msgr. Su and Msgr. An - interpreting the discontent
in many different sectors of the American public opinion in relation to
get closer with communist China, in moments that have escalated the
persecution against dissidents and against 12 million Catholics.
The Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, stated recently in Rome, and in an
arrogant way, that he will continue with the "dictatorial proletarian
system," and further on, imposed upon the Holy Seed two important
conditions if she wants the relationship with China to prosper: "The
first one is to break up relations with Taiwan, recognizing Populist
China as the only legitimate government; and the second one, to stay
away from our own country's internal affairs through the pretext of
religion." Other statements affirming the decision to continue with the
communist system, were made a few days ago in Washington by the prime
minister Zhu Rongji, which reveals the way the Chinese leaders interpret
the "constructive compromise" with the West and with the Catholics.
The Cuban exiles, with their enthusiastic and generous adhesion to the
campaign for the liberation of bishops, priests and faithful Chinese
Catholics, perform a double duty and role: on one side, they support
their brothers in the faith, victims of the same ideology "intrinsically
perverse" that enslaves their own country and suffocates the Catholics;
on the other, they contribute to strengthen the reactions of wide
sectors of the American public opinion who are against closer relations
with communist China as well as with Castro's Cuba.
(Diario Las Américas, Miami, Apr. 16, 1999)

Gonzalo Guimaraens is a political analyst, specialist in Cuban affairs