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U.S. should respect facts and reject bias on freedom of religious belief in China

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily)    09:05, July 22, 2019

Chinese government protects citizens’ right to freedom of religious belief, which is a fact that any conscientious and impartial person recognizes.

However, such fact has been denied by some U.S. officials.

On July 18, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slandered the religious policy and the freedom of religious belief in China at a U.S. conference to “advance religious freedom”.

They even collaborated with cult members, which exposed to the world their ugliness and hypocrisy.

Some U.S. politicians have long been slandering China with fabricated stories, and are even undermining ethnic harmony and interfering in the internal affairs of China.

Fortunately, lies cannot stand long. The reckless endorsement of Pence, which was full of self-contradictories, has become a butt of a joke for the world.

On one hand, he said China “persecuted” religions; on the other hand, he claimed that in China, he actually saw the fastest growth in the Christian faith that world has ever seen in the last 2,000 years. How could this have happened without freedom of religious belief?

To know what it is that you know, and to know what it is that you do not know - that is understanding. However, these U.S. politicians are being hypocritic by acting wise or foolish. It seems like they are interested in the freedom of religious belief in Xinjiang, but indeed they know nothing about the facts there.

Xinjiang is home to over 24,800 venues for religious activities such as mosques, churches and temples. Among them, there are about 24,400 mosques, over twice as much as those in the U.S., the UK, Germany and French together. A mosque is built for every 530 Muslims.

A total of 109 religious sites in Xinjiang, including Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Shengyou Lamasery in Zhaosu, and the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves have been designated as major cultural heritage sites under the protection of the autonomous region and the state.

China’s efforts to care for the Muslims were commended atthe 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the organization said it is willing to enhance cooperation with China.

Of course, for those who have evil intensions, such facts that prove China’s freedom of religious belief would only cause obstacles for them to slander China. Therefore, they have to hide such reality.

As for the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang, which have been frequently cited by the U.S., they are just another trick played by the distain China. Any righteous and responsible member of the international society can see through the trick and choose not to follow the U.S.

Setting up the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang, China is making every effort to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens from violation by terrorism and extremism. For nearly 3 years, no violent terrorist attacks have taken place in Xinjiang since the establishment of these centers, and the fundamental human rights of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have been effectively protected.

Xinjiang’s human rights achievements, as well as its progress made in anti-terrorism and de-extremization have been recognized on multiple occasions amid the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The representatives from Cameron, Cambodia, North Korea and Myanmar noted that China’s preventive counterterrorism approaches, including setting up vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang and other places, are a great combination of anti-terrorism and human rights protection, and deserve support and praise.

The representatives from Laos, Serbia, Burundi, Somalia and Nepal said that it is total slander that the west calls these centers “re-education camps”, and China’s experiences in anti-terrorism and de-extremization are worth learning from.

There is a Chinese saying that justice naturally inhabits man’s heart. China has made remarkable achievements in human rights protection in Xinjiang, and the progress of anti-terrorism and de-extremization is serving as an important guarantee for the flourishing social development and livelihood in the region. These are undeniable facts.

Ambassadors of 37 countries to the UN office at Geneva recently sent a joint letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to show their support for China on its remarkable achievements in the field of human rights, as well as counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang.

The letter stressed that the people in Xinjiang enjoy a stronger sense of happiness, fulfillment and security, saying that China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers, which effectively guaranteed the fundamental human rights of the people of all ethnic groups in the region.

These envoys praised China’s practice of inviting ambassadors, international organization officials as well as media practitioners to Xinjiang, and called on relevant countries to refrain from employing unfounded charges against China based on unconfirmed information before they visit Xinjiang.

Why is the U.S. turning a deaf ear to such righteous voices?

China is willing to open its arms and welcome the discussion on religious and human rights issues with friendly countries and experts. The country has been taking an active part in the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, and has decided to accept 284 recommendations, or 82% of the total in the third round of the review that took place in March this year.The number and proportion of recommendations accepted by China were among the highest in major countries.

China, working in concert with the world, including developing countries and beyond to advance development through cooperation and promote human rights through development, is demonstrating its sense of responsibility as a major country.

On the contrary, the U.S. unexpectedly withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council with a fear that other countries might accuse it of human rights violation. It is falling behind the world in the practices of human rights issues.

Only by respecting facts and rejecting bias can a country build its credibility in the international society. And the fact of China’s justified practices can never be denied by the remarks by Pence and Pompeo. The ungrounded slanders made by the U.S. will only hurt its own image.

We advise that the U.S. get down to the business that helps build the mutual trust between Washington and Beijing, so as to create peace and tranquility for the world.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name used by People’s Daily to express views on foreign policy.) 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)

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