Leaders of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Sunday they are “flattered” to be on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) sanctioned list. They condemned “the state-directed oppression under which Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and others are forced to live,” they said.

Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins, president and vice president of USCIRF, wrote in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal that the CCP imposed sanctions on them for their work in an attempt to silence denunciations of human rights abuses in China.

“The sanctions are a desperate attempt to silence international scrutiny of Beijing’s abysmal human-rights record, particularly its genocidal policies against the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and its persecution of other religious minorities.” Manchin and Perkins asserted.

“We will not be intimidated or silenced,” the chairpersons declared and went on to say, “In fact, we’re flattered by the Chinese government’s (CCP) recognition for our work in defending religious freedom in China, as we join an increasing list of courageous American, European and other officials on whom the party has likewise applied sanctions for standing up to a regime that has violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention.”

Last year, Breitbart reported, USCIRF accused CCP authorities of creating “an Orwellian surveillance state with an unprecedented ability to gather private information about its citizens,” which would be used to monitor Christians and other religious minorities.

The USCIRF has been warning about violations of religious freedom in China since the Commission was created in 1998. Still, according to its chairmen, since Xi Jinping’s inauguration, the intensity of such violations has increased.

“Across the country, Chinese authorities have raided subway house churches, arrested Christians who refuse to join state churches, and banned children under 18 from attending services,” Manchin said.

In addition to the regular harassment of religious minorities, in recent years, the CCP has made the latest technology available to the intelligence apparatus to perfect the persecution system.

Tony Perkins noted that the CCP employs artificial intelligence systems that combine information from video surveillance, facial and voice recognition, GPS tracking, and other data “to track certain religious communities.”

“Authorities even installed cameras on the pulpits of churches and other houses of worship, allowing the Party to identify and monitor anyone who attends services,” Perkins said.

Finally, both commissioners urged U.S. trading partners to independently investigate on their own to formally conclude whether the CCP’s abusive policies in Xinjiang amount to genocide and crimes against humanity, as determined by the USCIRF.

Such action would put joint and more effective pressure on the regime’s authorities to reduce persecution and human rights abuses.