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China Daily Website

Chinese experts criticize US report

Updated: 2012-08-01 02:15
By Cheng Guangjin ( China Daily)

The United States has named China as one of eight "countries of particular concern" in its annual report on religious freedom issued on Monday.

Critics have hit back at the report, claiming the US is interfering in the internal affairs of other countries in the name of religion.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the report "sends a signal … that the world is watching".

"It also provides information to help us and others target our advocacy, to make sure we reach the people who most need our help," Clinton said.

A Xinhua News Agency commentary published on Tuesday accused the report of being "nothing but a political tool used by the US government to exert pressure on other countries, mostly deemed as its rivals".

Four Asian countries — China, Myanmar, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan — were among eight nations designated as "countries of particular concern" on religious freedom. Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan were also named.

The report is largely based on unconfirmed media reports and groundless allegations from outlawed groups and organizations with an ulterior motive, the Xinhua commentary said.

By blaming China for "marked deterioration" in religious freedom, the report apparently ignored the basic facts and realities in China, which has made utmost efforts to defend religious freedom and the right to express religious belief on condition that laws are respected, it said.

Contrary to the report's claims that "increased restrictions on religious freedom" led to at least 12 self-immolations in 2011 in the Tibet autonomous region, these incidents were in fact part of the Dalai Lama clique's scheme to internationalize the Tibet issue, according to Xinhua.

Only a few members from banned cults and illegal extremist religious organizations, which engage in illegal or separatist activities under the guise of seeking religious freedom, have been punished in China strictly in accordance with the laws, Xinhua said.

The US State Department has been issuing to the Congress the annual Report on International Religious Freedom, which covers nearly 200 countries and territories, since 1999, under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

Releasing the report "will only backfire by creating more suspicion and distrust rather than fostering mutual understanding and improving relations with other countries", said the Xinhua commentary.

"Equality and mutual respect have been the cornerstones for building nation-to-nation relations, but the United States has shown no respect to others by imposing its own standards on religious policies, regardless of the differences in history, cultural tradition and economic and political realities," it said.

Niu Jun, an expert on US studies at Peking University, said that conflict between China and the US on religious issues has been a "chronic problem" between the two countries, which have different political systems.

The US has been issuing such reports annually for many years, but "not all of the information in the reports is precise and some is far from the real situation of China's religious reality", Niu said.

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