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China Rejects U.S. Criticism Of Its Religious Record

September 16, 2004 5:26 a.m.

BEIJING (AP)--China on Thursday rejected U.S. criticism of its record on religious rights and called on Washington to stop telling other governments what to do.

The U.S. State Department said in its annual report on religious freedom this week that China intimidates, harasses and detains Christians and believers of other faiths who don't register with the government.

It listed China among "countries of particular concern" which could be subject to U.S. sanctions because of religious intolerance.

China "firmly opposes the U.S. practice of interfering in the religious affairs of other countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a news briefing.

"Freedom of religious belief is protected by China's constitution and other laws," he said.

The State Department's other "countries of particular concern" are Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, North Korea and Sudan.

-Edited by Mary de Wet