China lodges US protest after religious freedom criticised

Beijing Monday lodged a protest against the United States after a government advisory body highlighted "severe violations of religious freedom" in China.

The Chinese foreign ministry expressed anger after the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal government body, raised concerns over Beijing's religious policies.

"We have launched representations with the US and urged the US to stop interfering in China's domestic affairs by making use of the relevant issue," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters Monday.

The report urged the State Department to continue to maintain China's classification as a "country of particular concern" (CPC), a ranking which includes Myanmar and North Korea.

"The Chinese government continues to perpetrate particularly severe violations of religious freedom," it said.

The report highlighted the plight of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims saying "conditions are worse now than at any time in the past decade".

China has been designated as a CPC since 1999, said the report, which was released last Thursday.

Hua retorted that China "respects and protects" freedom of religious belief.

"The so-called report... is full of political prejudice which brings unfounded accusations against China," he said at the regular briefing in Beijing.