China protests U.S. criticism of policies on religion
China has issued a protest over remarks that Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom made criticizing Beijing’s polices toward Muslim and Tibetan Buddhist minorities and saying the country was “at war with faith.”
The foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong said the speech Sam Brownback gave Friday “slandered” China’s religious policies. It said it had registered its dissatisfaction Saturday with the U.S. Consulate in the semi-autonomous Chinese region, where the speech was given.
China’s constitution and laws protect freedom of religion and critics should “cease their slander of China’s policies on religion and the situation with freedom of faith and cease using religious issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” the office said in a statement.
U.S. officials and UN experts say China is believed to be holding 1 million Uighurs, Muslims and members of other majority Muslim ethnic groups in political education camps in Xinjiang. The U.S. and other governments have criticized the crackdown.
The Chinese government says those camps are vocational training centers designed to rid the region of extremism.
Brownback said President Donald Trump’s administration is “deeply concerned and considered it a deliberate attempt by Beijing to redefine and control these Muslim minority groups, (their) identity, culture and faith.”
He urged Beijing to grant free access to the camps to investigate claims of abuse of inmates.
More generally, Brownback said, China is “at war with faith.”
“It’s a war they will not win,” he said. “The Chinese Communist Party must hear the cry of its people for religious freedom.”
In his speech, the Catholic conservative also called on China to release Wang Yi and John Cao Sanqiang, detained pastors in the “underground” church that operates independently of official government agencies.