China tells ‘imperfect’ US to mind its own business over religious freedom criticism
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commented on the 2016 International Religious Freedom Report released by the State Department. While Tillerson did not speak about China in particular, the document itself lists China among “countries of particular concern.” The report accuses China of abuses of religious freedom, citing reports on alleged discrimination against Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and religious minorities.
The report was criticized as baseless by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Wednesday.
“The so-called US report ignores the facts, confuses right and wrong and makes wanton criticism of China's religious freedom situation,” she told reporters.
The spokesperson also advised Washington not to use religious freedom as a false pretext for interference in other countries’ business, saying that America itself is not perfect.
“Everyone has seen that the facts prove the United States is not totally perfect,” Hua said without elaborating.
“We urge the United States to respect the facts and properly manage its own affairs, and stop using the wrong means of the so-called religious freedom issue to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency also commented on the US report, calling it “political bigotry held by the US government” and dismissing it as based on unreliable sources. “Chinese people of all ethnic groups have enjoyed full religious freedom in accordance with the Constitution and state laws,” Xinhua reported.
The article said China was only against groups covering up their criminal activities with religion.
“Some religious extremists, splittists and terrorists advocate violence within Chinese territory in the name of seeking religious freedom and human rights,” the commentary read.
Xinhua mentioned Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one person dead and more than a dozen injured, as an example of “the double standard” from the US.
“Despite its self-proclaimed role as the world's human rights champion, the fact is the world's sole superpower is far from becoming a respected role model in this regard,” the report concluded.
China has been on the US list of “countries of particular concern” since 1999. It has always denied allegations of oppression of any religious and ethnic groups.