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US to Push China on Religious Rights

Believers take part in a weekend Mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin.

Believers take part in a weekend Mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin.

A United States official has urged the State Department to take steps against China and other nations that violate human rights and religious freedom.

Robert George wants the State Department to identify all the violators as “countries of particular concern” in its yearly country-by-country reports. Mr. George is chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He spoke to a Congressional subcommittee earlier this week.

The Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent organization within the federal government. Its purpose is to defend the right of freedom of religion overseas.

The group’s chairman urged the State Department to list the worst offenders of religious freedoms. In addition to China, the eight other countries he named are Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Mr. George told the committee that China needs to show “greater respect for the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, for the house church members, for the Catholics, for the Uyghur Muslims, for the Falun Gong.”

He continued by saying “the flowering of religious freedom (in China)” is still not happening.

Congressman Curt Clawson is a member of the subcommittee as well as the Republican Party. He questioned the Obama administration’s statements about making religious freedom a top concern.

“Of all the countries that you mentioned, there is a lot of Nike shoes made in Vietnam, and all the toys and electronics are coming from China. They’re the factory of the world. And whether they abuse folks’ religious freedom or not, seems to matter not to the bottom line,' he said.

But the State Department Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, disagrees. He said the United States places great importance to supporting religious freedom worldwide.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Yang Chen reported on this story for Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

commission – n. a committee, group of organization

church – n. a Christian group of a place where Christians meet for religious services

catholic – n. members of the Roman Catholic Church

folks – n. people in general

bottom line – expression. the most important part of something; the final result

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