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China worst in the world for assault on religious freedoms, says Mike Pompeo

CA, 30 Sep 2020
China is the worst country in the world for attacking religious freedoms, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday in a speech that followed recent criticism of closer ties between the Vatican and Beijing.

Shortly after arriving in Rome for a two-day visit that will include meetings with Italian and Vatican officials, Pompeo launched a fierce attack on China's human rights record.

"Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China," Pompeo said while delivering a keynote speech at a Vatican symposium titled "Advancing and Defending Religious Freedom Through Diplomacy" in Rome.

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who has portrayed himself as a champion of religious rights, reiterated past comments, saying that the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China have been persecuted.

China has consistently denied any mistreatment of Uighurs in what it calls vocational training centers, which it says have been extremely successful in combating extremism and violence.

Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in recent years, blamed by Beijing on Islamists and extremists. Rights groups and exiles say the violence is more a reaction against China's suppression of the Uighur people.

After the symposium, Pompeo visited Palazzo Chigi, headquarters of the Italian government, to meet Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Pompeo will meet Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and on Oct. 1 he will meet with the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, but not the Pope.

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