Hypocritical US can't comment on religious freedom: China says

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a ministerial meeting on religious freedom at the State Department

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 18) that the United States will create a new worldwide body to campaign for religious freedom, following a major meeting in Washington.

Pompeo denounced China for its large-scale detentions in the western Xinjiang region, where an estimated 1 million Muslim Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities are believed to be held in internment camps.

"If you are here today and you're a country which has defied the Chinese pressure to come here - we salute you and we thank you, and if you have declined to attend for the same reason, we took note", stated Pompeo.

Beijing on Friday criticized US Vice President Mike Pence and top diplomat Mike Pompeo as "hideous" and "hypocritical" after they called for religious freedom in China at a major meeting in Washington. Chinese government officials had sought to discourage countries from attending the three-day event he has hosted, attended by 106 countries, he said.

Pompeo's isn't identifying those nations by name.

"They even use so-called freedom of religious belief as an excuse to undermine China's national harmony and interfere in China's internal affairs", the editorial said. "We can not prove the exact number they successfully impacted", Pompeo said.

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The United States should reject "prejudice" and respect facts instead of vilifying China's record on religious rights, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily said on Saturday after fresh criticism of China's treatment of ethnic Muslims.

Pompeo says China's discouragement of other countries from attending the meeting is unacceptable and runs counter to guarantees of religious freedom in the Chinese constitution.

United Nations experts and activists contend China has placed at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs in detention centers.

The U.S. has been considering sanctions against Chinese officials over their policies in Xinjiang but has yet to impose them amid Chinese threats of retaliation. Almost two dozen countries on the U.N. Human Rights Council earlier this month called on China to stop its persecution of Uighurs in the country's western Xinjiang region.

"Whatever comes of our negotiations with Beijing, you can be assured that the American people will stand in solidarity with people of all faith in the People's Republic of China", he said.

Relations between the United States and China are already tense over a tit-for-tat trade war, with the United States alleging that China engages in unfair trading practices.

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