In this June 6, 2018 photo, flower grower Ruz and his wife Tajinisa make rose sauce at a village in Hotan, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (ZHAO GE / XINHUA)
BEIJING – US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again poked their nose into China's internal affairs. This time, their pretext and target is China's religious freedom.
At a US-hosted conference on religious freedom earlier this week, Pence made an incendiary speech against China. However, the US leader's words were laden with fallacies and logical contradictions.
He, on the one hand, claimed that religious persecution in China has targeted the Christian faith, yet in the same breath, noted that the number of Chinese Christians had skyrocketed from less than half a million to 130 million over the past 70 years.
Washington politicians chose to lie about China's record on human rights and religious freedom, while other members of the international community have remained honest
Apparently, the vice president had done a good job in cooking up Irish bull. For Pence, it seems that truth is overwhelmed by his prejudice.
The growth of the number of Chinese Christians is an indisputable testimony to Beijing's commitment to ensuring its population's legitimate rights and freedom to worship.
China has about 200 million religious believers, among whom 20 million are Muslims. There are also more than 380,000 clerical personnel in China with approximately 5,500 religious groups and about 140,000 places of worship registered for religious activities.
In Xinjiang, there are 24,400 mosques, which amounts to a mosque for every 530 Muslims on average. In comparison, the number of mosques across the United States is less than one tenth of that in Xinjiang, according to publicly available statistics.
Xinjiang fully respects and protects freedom of religious belief as stipulated in the Constitution of China, and respects citizens' freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion, said a white paper released by the State Council Information Office on Sunday.
In the words of Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang in June, China's ethnic and religious policies are open and transparent, and the facts are always there for all to see.
Washington politicians chose to lie about China's record on human rights and religious freedom, while other members of the international community have remained honest.
In a joint letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on July 12, ambassadors of 37 countries to the UN at Geneva commended China's "remarkable achievements in the field of human rights by adhering to the people-centered development philosophy and protecting and promoting human rights through development."
The idea of "people-centered development" has for long played a critical role in China's religious policies, of which China's national strategy of "pairing assistance" in Xinjiang has become emblematic.
As an ambitious project to boost progress and social stability in Xinjiang and to help the region achieve prosperity, nearly 120 billion yuan (US$17.5 billion) has been invested in Xinjiang, and over 87,500 cadres, teachers, doctors, nurses and technicians have been dispatched to work there in the past decade.
Driven by double standards, certain politicians in Washington clamor that China's efforts to crack down on extremism and terrorism are "persecution against religious faith." Some detractors in the United States even compare the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang to "internment camps."
The truth is that those institutions are aimed at helping young people who are swayed by terrorism and extremism, by giving them the opportunity to acquire a vocational skill, so as to ensure that they can later reintegrate into society. Because of these polices, Xinjiang has not seen a single terrorist attack in the past three years.
Perhaps next time when people like Pence and Pompeo try to assault China's human rights records, they need to first take a look at America's own. The bone-chilling human rights abuses behind the high walls and barbed wire of Guantanamo bay indeed qualify what Pompeo called the "stain of the century." Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp remains open and functional till today.
HONG KONG NEWS