Feb 4, 2022
Notre Dame has had an ambivalent relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Not so long ago, some naïve university leaders pushed the egregious proposal for Notre Dame to establish a liberal arts college in China in collaboration with a state-sponsored university. Fortunately, good sense eventually prevailed, and Notre Dame avoided entrapment in what would have been a thoroughly compromised project. Yet, Notre Dame still maintains its Beijing Global Gateway along with various collaborative endeavors in China.
Perhaps as a result, the university has been cautious in speaking out about the gross human rights abuses occurring in China today. Few statements have been made about either the horrifying treatment to which the Uighur Muslims have been subjected or the enhanced and brutal repression meted out to groups like Tibetan Buddhists, various Christian denominations and other religious minorities as Xi Jinping has consolidated his power.
With the exemplary exception of some individual efforts by scholars like Professor Victoria Tin-bor Hui, little attention has been given at Notre Dame to the annihilation of Hong Kong’s democracy and autonomy. Few have spoken up against the mass arrests and the imprisonment and torture of political dissidents there. A significant number of those who have protested the Beijing regime’s repression in Hong Kong are Catholics, and prominent in their number is Jimmy Lai, who has refused to bow to the communists’ dictates.
Mr. Lai is best known as the founder of the staunchly pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, which has now been closed. Presently he is confined in Stanley Prison in Hong Kong, facing trumped up charges ranging from sedition to colluding with foreign powers. Eventually he will be given some kind of show trial. He faces life imprisonment for his refusal to bow to the edicts of the acolytes of Xi Jinping.