China’s Communist government has lodged a formal diplomatic complaint with the U.S. government for what it is calling a biased and distorted “attack” on China’s religious policies, after the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a scathing report on the state of religious liberty in the country.
In its annual report for 2016, the Commission reserved some of its harshest language to describe the situation of religious freedom in China, noting that over the past year, “the Chinese government has stepped up its persecution of religious groups deemed a threat to the state’s supremacy and maintenance of a ‘socialist society.’”
The report states that “Christian communities have borne a significant brunt of the oppression, with numerous churches bulldozed and crosses torn down.”
According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, China has lodged “solemn representation” to the United States after the USCIRF listed China as a “country of particular concern” in its annual report for its for its “systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses,” a designation China has enjoyed without interruption since 1999.
“The Chinese government fully respects and protects its citizens’ freedom of religion in line with the law, and Chinese citizens enjoy the rights to full religious freedom in accordance with the law,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press briefing on Thursday.
“The U.S. ignores this fact and releases reports repeatedly to distort and attack China’s religious policies and status. China firmly opposes the U.S. move and has lodged solemn representation to the U.S. side,” Hong said.
The spokesperson also said the United States should look to its own problems rather than pointing the finger at others.
In its report, USCIRF said that the past year was marked by the Chinese government’s “deliberate and unrelenting crackdown on human rights and dissent.”
The document details a series of abuses, including the arrest of pastor Bao Guohua and his wife, Xing Wenxiang, who were sentenced to 14 and 12 years in prison, respectively, for leading a Christian congregation that was opposing a government campaign to remove crosses atop churches.
The Chinese government continues to operate “black jails” and brainwashing centers, where prisoners of conscience undergo “torture, sexual violence, psychiatric experimentation, and organ harvesting,” the report said.
Under the presidency of Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has “pursued policies to diminish the voices of individuals and organizations advocating for human rights and genuine rule of law,” it stated.
As Breitbart News has reported, in the city of Wenzhou, of the Zhejiang province, communist authorities have removed more than 2,000 church crosses since the beginning of their cross removal campaign in 2014.
As recently as this past March, authorities demolished a dozen church crosses in a single week and beat protesters bloody.
The government has euphemistically labeled the campaign a “beautification” program, often recurring to trumped up charges that church structures are illegally constructed in order to justify the demolition of crosses.
Ever since Xi Jinping assumed power as Chinese Communist Party General Secretary in 2012, the Party has tightened restrictions on religious practice, and more and more believers are opting out of official, state-sanctioned religious organizations and joining underground churches.
In April, five priests from China’s underground Catholic Church mysteriously went missing, in what observers see as a concentrated round-up of so-called “dissidents” by China’s communist party.
According to a Congressional report, 2015 was the worst year on record for human rights violations in China and conditions for religious believers in China have been on a “downward trend” ever since Xi took office.
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