Commentary: U.S. release of annual report on religious freedom unimaginative, counterproductive   2012-07-31 10:14:04            

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government on Monday released the 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom, continuing a notorious practice of blatantly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including China, in the name of religion.

The report once again designated eight countries, namely Myanmar, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan, as Countries of Particular Concern for alleged violations of religious freedom.

Without providing factual proof, it alleged that the situation of religious freedom "deteriorated" in 2011 in countries including China, Eritrea, Iran and Pakistan, which was not listed among Countries of Particular Concern.

The U.S. State Department has been issuing to the Congress the annual Report on International Religious Freedom, which covers nearly 200 countries and territories, since 1999, under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

The annual report, largely based on unconfirmed media reports and groundless allegations from outlawed groups and organizations with ulterior motives, is nothing but a political tool used by the U.S. government to exert pressure on other countries, mostly deemed as its rivals.

Equality and mutual respect have been the cornerstones for building nation-to-nation relations, but the United States has shown no respect to others by imposing its own standards on religious policies, regardless of the differences in history, cultural tradition, and economic and political realities.

The U.S. practice of releasing such a report, which is full of prejudice, arrogance and ignorance, is unimaginative and even counterproductive.

The U.S. action will only backfire by creating more suspicion and distrust rather than fostering mutual understanding and improving relations with other countries. In fact, the report has been repeatedly rejected and condemned by countries that Washington has accused year after year.

China, a multi-religious country where religious freedom is fully protected under the Constitution and state laws, has been consistent in rejecting the U.S. interference in its internal affairs under the pretext of protecting religious freedom.

By blaming China for "marked deterioration" in religious freedom, the report apparently ignored the basic facts and realities in China, which has been making utmost efforts to defend the freedom of religion and rights to express religious belief on condition that the laws are respected.

It's undeniable that, for the past decades, China has already made great strides in consolidating the rule of law to ensure the protection of religious freedom so that all practitioners of lawful religions can practice their faith freely. In today's China, no one will be persecuted just because he or she is affiliated with any of the lawful religions.

Only a few members from banned cults and illegal extremist religious organizations, which engage in illegal or splittist activities under the guise of seeking religious freedom, have been punished in China strictly according to the laws.

Contrary to the U.S. report's claims that "increased restrictions on religious freedom" led to at least 12 self-immolations by Tibetans in 2011, these incidents were in fact politically-motivated, as they were part of the Dalai Lama clique's scheme to internationalize the Tibet issue.

As a sovereign country, China has every right to maintain its social stability and territorial integrity by cracking down on religious extremism, splittism and terrorism which advocate violence in the name of seeking religious freedom and human rights.

China has been, and will be, open to dialogues and exchanges of opinion with governments and religious figures from Western countries, including the United States, on religious issues of common concern on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Actually, China has been conducting direct and candid dialogues with the United States and other countries in the past years, with an aim to promote mutual understanding and seek ways to address mutual concerns on religious policies and other matters.

So when all channels of dialogue are wide open, there is no justification for Washington to release the annual report on religious freedom, which is surely counterproductive to the development of the U.S.-China relations.

Editor: An
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