China used to express its anger whenever the United States would mention its religious crackdown, and this time was no exception. U.S. officials labeled it “home to one of the worst human rights crises” in modern history.
the U.S. Department of State held the Ministerial Conference to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington on July 18, at which Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo publicly called for religious freedom in China.
At the meeting, Pompeo revealed that the Chinese Communist Party demands control over the lives of the Chinese people and their souls. Moreover, “Chinese government officials have even discouraged other countries from attending this very gathering.”
“Is that consistent with the guarantee of “freedom of religious belief” that is found directly in the Chinese Constitution?” the U.S. top diplomat questioned.
Pompeo then gave examples of the Chinese faithful that are in need of support.
“In September of last year, Chen Huixia, a member of the Falun Gong, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison simply for practicing his faith,” he said.
In May of 2018, authorities arrested Wang Yi, the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church, a large unregistered church in Chengdu, for openly criticizing the government’s controls on religious freedom. He’s still in jail today.
Pompeo also mentioned the case of more than 1 million Chinese Muslims and other minorities detained in camps in Xinjiang since April 2017.
“China is home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time. It is truly the stain of the century,” Pompeo said.
The day before, on July 17, President Donald Trump spent time meeting 27 survivors of religious persecution from 17 countries, with four from China, including Falun Gong practitioner Yuhua Zhang, Uyghur Muslim Uhamur Ilham, Tibetan Buddhist Nyima Lhamo and Christian Manping Ouyang.
However, those live witnesses could not help silence China, but trigger a new wave of irritation from Beijing.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in a press briefing in Beijing on July 19 said the U.S. conference on religious freedom “has slandered China’s religious policies and the situation of religious belief in China and interfered with China’s internal affairs.”
“The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposes it,” Geng said, adding that comments from US officials had “completely confused right and wrong and reversed black and white”.
“We demand that the U.S. abide by objective facts, abandon prejudice, correctly look at China’s religious policies and the state of freedom of religious belief, and stop using religious issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” Geng said.
But the Trump administration seems to “abide by objective facts” in criticizing China’s faith crackdown.
Evidence was shown on July 18, 2019, when about 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners and supporters held a rally on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington, calling for an end to the 20 years of oppression in China, according to Minghui, a website dedicated to exposing the persecution of Falun Gong.
Among them are practitioners who fled China to the United States to avoid the persecution launched by Chinese former leader Jiang Zemin in 1999.
Minghui reported that about 100 million Chinese people were practicing Falun Gong when the persecution began in 1999. Millions of people have since been abducted, imprisoned, tortured, fired from jobs, expelled from school, or forced into homelessness because of their practice. Over 80,000 cases of torture have been recorded, and thousands have been killed.