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China Says U.S. Report Is Distorted

October 30, 2001

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BEIJING (AP) _ China on Tuesday sharply rejected a U.S. State Department report claiming the country’s respect for religious freedoms worsened over the past year.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said the report ``distorted the facts and made groundless accusations.″ He warned that bilateral ties would suffer unless Washington were to ``stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.″

``We wish to express our strong indignation and resolute opposition,″ Sun said at a regular briefing for reporters. ``The United States is not entitled to issue any international freedom report or to make irresponsible accusations or point its fingers at other countries.″

The annual U.S. report, released Friday, said China intensified its repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and other groups that the government has banned as cults. The report covered a period from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2001.

The report noted that while China’s constitution promises religious freedom, the government limits religious practice to officially sanctioned groups and places of worship and controls the growth and scope of religious groups.

``We safeguard the freedom of religious beliefs,″ said Sun. ``At the same time we prohibit any individuals or organizations from undertaking illegal activities under the pretext of religion.″

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