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China’s state-aligned Catholic organisations tell US to back off

HONG KONG (UCAN): Responding to the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom of the United States (US) State Department, held in Washington DC from July 16 to 18, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and other officially sanctioned religious organisations in China say the gathering “maliciously hyped” China’s ethnic and religious policies.
 
The gathering was promoted as the largest religious freedom event in the world, bringing together 1,000 civil society and religious leaders from 106 nations.
 
“The Chinese government conscientiously implements the policy of freedom of religious belief and Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law,” said the CPA and BCCCC insisted in a July 20 statement.
 
It added that Catholics in China have achieved great progress in pastoral work and evangelisation as had other religions. It also advised the US to stop using religion to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
 
However, the statement was issued without any signature, nor naming any CPA or BCCCC leader.
 
Meanwhile, the China Christian Council, China Islamic Association, China Buddhist Association and the China Daoist Association all issued statements condemning  what they called US attacks on China in the name of religious freedom.
 
Former Republican congressman, Frank Wolf, told the Washington conference that religious persecution in China is currently the worst it has been for 30 years.
 
Examples, he said, include forcing Catholics to accept clergy appointed by the Chinese authorities and the mass detention of more than one million Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.
 
US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, announced at the conference that the country was forming an International Religious Freedom Alliance.
 
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said on July 19 that attacks on China at the conference by Pompeo and vice president, Mike Pence, were totally baseless.
 
“For them, religious freedom is just a pretext and a tool to make slanders, undermine ethnic harmony and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” the spokesperson said.
 
A Church member, who asked for anonymity, said that the criticisms of both the CPA and the BCCCC would have been directly ordered by China’s religious affairs bureau.
He observed that the US angered the Chinese government by involving dissidents at the Washington gathering.
 
Conference participants received by US president, Donald Trump, included four participants from China: Jewher IIham, daughter of well-known Uyghur scholar, Ilham Toxti; Zhang Yuhua, a Falun Gong practitioner; Nyima Lhamo, a Tibetan Buddhist; and Ouyang Manping, a Christian.

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