(TibetanReview.net, May07, 2016) – China has reacted with bitter anger on May 5 at an independent US government advisory commission’s report that violations of religious freedom in that country last year remained “severe.” Releasing its 2016 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) May 2 recommended to the US government the re-designation of China as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) on the issue of religious freedom.
Claiming that China fully respected religious freedom, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said her government had lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States, reported Reuters May 6.
“China is resolutely opposed to this and has already lodged stern representations with the US side,” Hong has said, referring to the report.
“We demand the US side objectively and justly view China’s religious policy and Chinese citizens’ freedom of belief, and stop using the religious issue to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Hong has further said.
In its Tibet section, the commission has said that the PRC government continued its tight control over Tibetan Buddhists, “strictly monitoring and suppressing their cultural and religious practices.” It questioned the Chinese government’s claim of having the authority to select the next Dalai Lama.
China’s atheist ruling Communist Party recognizes only a handful of state-approved religions — Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Protestantism — followers of which must worship under the watchful eyes and control of government established patriotic religious associations. Its crackdown on unregistered religious groups and underground house churches as well as on unapproved religious activities has been severe.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US government advisory body and the latest report covers the period of Feb 1, 2015 to Feb 29, 2016.