Tuesday May 8, 2007 10:16 PM
The Guardian BEIJING (AP) - Beijing accused a U.S. advisory panel on Tuesday of taking ``potshots'' at China in a report that accuses the government of imprisoning and torturing people for practicing their religion.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its findings last week that every religious community in China continues to be subject to serious restrictions, state control, and repression.''
The report shows the panel's ignorance and prejudice regarding China. It skewed and attacked China's policy on religion and ethnic minorities,'' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.
``China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition,'' it said.
China is officially atheist. Christians, Buddhists, Taoists and Muslims are allowed to worship, but only in churches, temples or mosques run by state-monitored groups.
Christians who attend underground churches, as most do in China, are often jailed and harassed.
Abuses against prominent religious leaders and others include imprisonment, torture and other forms of ill treatment, the report said.
Jiang accused the committee of taking ``potshots at the religious situation in China and some other developing countries.''
The Chinese government targets Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, ``underground'' Roman Catholics, unregistered Protestants and spiritual groups such as the Falun Gong, said the panel, a 10-member commission that reports to the White House, the State Department and Congress.
``It is an obvious fact that the Chinese government protects the freedom of religious belief of its citizens and the Chinese citizens enjoy full religious freedom protected by law,'' she said.