China blasts US accusation on religious freedom
Updated: 2006-09-19 09:52

China on Monday denounced the U.S. accusation on China's religion policy and freedom, saying the "groundless" criticism, in violation of international norms, was "interference in China's internal affairs."

"China is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to the U.S. accusation on the country in its religious freedom report," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

Qin's comments came in the wake of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2006, which was released last Friday.

The annual report was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "the Chinese government's respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remained poor."

"That's a groundless criticism on China's religion policy and situation of religious freedom," Qin said.

"It violated the basic norms guiding international relations and interfered with China's internal affairs," the spokesman said.

It is an undisputable fact that the Chinese government protects the citizens' freedom of religious belief in accordance with laws, and Chinese people of all ethnic groups enjoy full freedom of religious belief according to laws, Qin stressed.

He demanded the U.S. side "face squarely" its own problems including religious freedom violations and stop interfering with China's domestic affairs.

China has more than 100 million religious adherents, more than 100,000 venues for religious activities, and about 300,000 clergy members, according to official statistics.

Normal religious ceremonies or rituals conducted by ministers and all other normal religious activities -- carried out either in venues for religious activities or homes of religious adherents in accordance with religious tradition -- are taken care of by believers themselves and protected by law.


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