AFP: US slams China's continued 'poor' record on religious freedom

China's respect for freedom of religion remained "poor" last year, most notably for members of underground groups such as the outlawed Falungong movement, the United States charged.

Repression was widespread, and there were "numerous credible reports" of the abuse or killing of Falungong followers by police, the State Department said in its annual report on international religious freedom.

Religious repression in Tibet also remained high, said the lengthy chapter on China, which was swiftly rejected as "groundless" by Beijing.

"During the period covered by this report, the government's respect for religious freedom and freedom of conscience remained poor, especially for members of some unregistered religious groups and spiritual movements such as the Falungong," the International Religious Freedom Report 2002 said.

Beijing "continued its repression of the Falungong spiritual movement and of cults in general", it added.

Falungong […] say that hundreds of practitioners of the Buddhist- and Taoist-based group, which was banned on the mainland in 1999 as a so-called "evil cult", have been killed in custody.


The United States has long been vocal on the issue. During a visit to Beijing in February, President George W. Bush used a nationally-televised speech to express a "prayer" for freedom of worship for China's people.

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