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US lists China among ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ for severity of religious repression

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan09’24) – As recommended by the country’s Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its annual report released Apr 2023, the United States has on Jan 4 designated China, along with 11 other countries that included North Korea and Pakistan, as “Countries of Particular Concern” for engaging in and tolerating “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

Announcing the Religious Freedom Designations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that advancing the freedom of religion or belief has been a core objective of US foreign policy ever since Congress passed and enacted the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998.

“As part of that enduring commitment, I have designated Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, the DPRK, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom,” Blinken has said in a press statement posted on the State Department website.

The USCIRF’s recommendations were for 17 countries to be designated as “Countries of Particular Concern”. It had also recommended 11 others for being designated as “Special Watch List Countries” for “engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.”

Blinken has said “Governments must end abuses such as attacks on members of religious minority communities and their places of worship, communal violence and lengthy imprisonment for peaceful expression, transnational repression, and calls to violence against religious communities, among other violations that occur in too many places around the world.”

He has called the challenges to religious freedom across the globe “structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched.”

But he has expressed confidence that “with thoughtful, sustained commitment from those who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo we will one day see a world where all people live with dignity and equality.”

The International Religious Freedom Act requires the President, who has delegated this function to the Secretary of State, to designate as “countries of particular concern,” countries that commit systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

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