On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of State released its seventh annual International Religious Freedom Report which identifies the status of religious freedom around the world. However, the report drew considerable criticism from the Chinese government and was dismissed as groundless.
The 2005 report designates Burma, China, Eritea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Vietnam as the top 8 "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPC) in violation of religious rights. It also gives an overview of the Bush administration's efforts to promote religious freedom through public advocacy and the monitoring of religious freedom.
The report cited that there are countries of concern that regards religious freedom as enemies of the state, or curtails religious freedom of "minority or non-approved" religions. Some of these governments are hostile toward minority religions and implement policies that "demand adherents to recant their faith, cause religious group members to flee the country, or intimidate and harass certain religious groups, or have as their principal effect the intimidation and harassment of certain religious groups," according to the report.
A separate bipartisan congressional report accused China of "systematically" violating human rights. The House of Representative Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that several congressional members will pressure President Bush to address human rights as "top priority" at the Beijing summit. Bush is scheduled to visit China beginning from November 19th.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao responded after the release of U.S. report that claims of China restricting religious practices to State-sanctioned groups are based from groundless accusations.
"We urge the US Government to stop interfering in China's religious affairs under the guise of the religion issue," Liu said. He pointed out that people in China are actually enjoying religious freedom in accordance with the government law.