0911 GMT January 23, 2020
China’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, wrote in an editorial on Saturday that Washington needs to reject "prejudice," after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of being “home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time,” Press TV wrote.
Speaking at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom conference in Washington on Thursday, Pompeo accused Beijing of intimidating countries into skipping the conference.
“We know the Chinese government called countries specifically to discourage participation,” charged Pompeo.
“We cannot prove the exact number they successfully impacted.”
The Chinese daily said that the US administration, like it has done with other issues such as trade in the past, “even uses so-called freedom of religious belief as an excuse to undermine China’s national harmony and interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
Pompeo’s remarks drew criticism from Chinese Foreign Ministry, with spokesman Geng Shuang describing them as “hideous” and “hypocritical.”
"We demand that the US 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,” he said.
Beijing has been under fire since last August, when a UN human rights panel reported that numerous camps had been set up in China’s vast Xinjiang region, holding as many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.
China has dismissed allegations of discrimination against Muslims in the region, saying the camps are being used as “vocational education and employment training centers” for “criminals involved in minor offenses.”
Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of Central Asia, Xinjiang is key to China’s growing energy needs.
Ironically, Pompeo's remarks come at a time that US President Donald Trump's administration stands accused of mistreating refugees and religious minorities, especially Muslims.
Human rights advocates have expressed concern over a recent report about the administration’s plans to cut the number of refugees and asylum seekers entering the US to zero by the next year, a policy that Amnesty International has described as “beyond shameful.”
“It is beyond shameful and a new low – even for this administration – to even consider accepting no refugees to the US," said Ryan Mace, Amnesty International USA’s grassroots advocacy and refugee specialist.
“Zero will never be an acceptable number for any country, let alone a country with so many resources and people willing to welcome new neighbors looking to rebuild their lives in peace and safety," he added.
Trump himself also came under fire across the globe earlier this week by making xenophobic remarks against four Democratic congresswomen – three of them Muslims.
In a series of tweets on Monday, he said the women were “spewing” “racist hatred,” calling on them to “go back” to the “broken and crime-infested’’ countries they originally came from.