China on Friday hit back at a senior American diplomat who called for the release of religious minorities detained in the country's vast prison camps, saying that the United States should "stop making political maneuvers and slanders". Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback had alleged that Beijing continues to keep people imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
"China continues to have a large number of people imprisoned for faith. We know that as far as Xinjiang is concerned," Brownback was quoted saying in Washington DC, referring to the western Chinese province which allegedly holds nearly a million Muslims in vast detention centres, adding, "we also know it continues to take place with Protestant and Catholic churches".
He went on to demand that China release these "religious prisoners" amid the novel Coronavirus pandemic, citing the threat of such detention camps becoming a hotspot for the viral disease.
Reacting on this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry resolutely rejected the charge saying there are "absolutely no 'religious prisoners' or 'detention of a million Muslims from Xinjiang' in China". The Ministry's principal spokesperson Hua Chunying labeled Brownback "just another rumor-mongering specialist". She also said that U.S. politicians should pay more attention to the domestic outbreak of the new coronavirus.
There's absolutely no "religious prisoners" or "detention of a million Muslims from Xinjiang" in China. We urge the US to stop making political maneuvers & slanders.— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) April 3, 2020
The US and China have regularly sparred over a host of issues — from religious persecution in Communist-ruled China to American assertiveness in trade disputes. The latest tussle in the relationship is the Coronavirus pandemic where the Donald Trump administration has squarely pinned the blame on China for the crisis, alleging it "mislead" the world on the outbreak and for not being transparent from the beginning.
The US has far surpassed China to be the new epicenter of the pandemic with over 2.6 lakh cases and the numbers have been consistently increasing. China, on the other hand, has had success in curbing the spread of the virus and has been slowly lifting restrictions in the country.