“The so-called report and the recent remarks by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which are related to China, neglect the truth and are full of ideological bias. They slander China’s religious policies and the policies in Xinjiang and openly interfere with China’s internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press conference on Monday.
Pompeo on Friday released the State Department’s 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom. The State Department added a special section on what American officials said are the “staggering scope of religious freedom abuses in Xinjiang” to this year’s report on China, VOA reported.
Geng said that China firmly opposes the moves and has lodged solemn representations with the US.
The Chinese government protects its citizens’ religious freedom in accordance with laws. People of all ethnic groups in China enjoy full religious freedom. The number of religious believers has reached 200 million and among them, 20 million are Muslims, Geng noted.
Xinjiang now has 24,400 mosques, which means one mosque for every 530 Muslims. The world has witnessed the openness and transparency of China’s policies on religion and ethnic groups, Geng said.
However, the situation of human rights and religion of minority groups in the US has raised concerns and worries, Geng said, citing a Pew Research Center survey in July 2017 in which 75 percent of Muslim respondents said there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the US.
“According to public data, the number of mosques in the US is less than one-tenth of those in Xinjiang,” Geng said.
Geng also said that Xinjiang’s affairs are China’s domestic affairs, which leave no room for outside forces to interfere. Setting up vocational training centers in Xinjiang is out of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization needs. Its purpose lies in protecting local residents’ safety, their religious freedom and human rights.
China’s Xinjiang policies have made contributions to local stability and the achievements would not be easily wiped out by some groundless slandering from the US.
“We urge the US and Pompeo to respect the truth, abandon their biases, stop releasing the annual report to slander China’s religious policies and our policies in Xinjiang, and stop using religious and Xinjiang issues to interfere in China’s domestic affairs,” Geng said.
The US religious freedom report was also reportedly rejected by India.