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U.S. House Bill on Persecution in China Draws Fire

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said a resolution by U.S. lawmakers condemning Beijing for allegedly stepping up religious persecution was a 'groundless accusation' that interfered in China's
( [email protected] ) Jun 13, 2006 09:10 AM EDT

BEIJING (AP) - China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said a resolution by U.S. lawmakers condemning Beijing for allegedly stepping up religious persecution was a "groundless accusation" that interfered in China's internal affairs.

The House of Representatives on Monday approved the resolution condemning China for rising persecution of religious believers.

The resolution "constitutes a gross interference in China's internal affairs," said Jiang Yu, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. "We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition."

Jiang said the passing of the resolution was a "groundless accusation and attack against China's religious and human rights."

U.S. lawmakers also approved two other resolutions: one condemning China's appointment of Catholic bishops without the Vatican's approval, and the other urging remembrance of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

China's state-sanctioned Catholic church, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, has appointed several bishops in recent weeks without the pope's blessing. The Vatican invoked a rule ordering those who took part in the ordination to be excommunicated.

China's communist government maintains that the Tiananmen crackdown was justified because it laid the basis for the country's rapid economic development.

"We advise the U.S. to take more care of their own issues and do more to address the human rights violation issues in the United States," Jiang said. "They should stop interfering with other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of religious affairs and human rights."

China maintains tight control over all religions. Those who attend underground Protestant or Catholic churches routinely face detention, harassment and sometimes imprisonment.

"The Chinese government protects the freedom of religious beliefs of citizens in accordance with the law," Jiang said. "After reform and opening up ... we have made great progress in our human rights and people's livelihoods. This is obvious for all to see."

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