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‘Hideous’ and ‘hypocritical’: China hits back at US over religious freedom

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Beijing on Friday criticised US Vice President Mike Pence and top diplomat Mike Pompeo as “hideous” and “hypocritical” after they called for religious freedom in China at a major meeting in Washington.

Secretary of State Pompeo said Thursday that Washington will create a new international body to campaign for religious freedom, speaking after a conference where he called China’s mass incarceration of mostly Muslim Uighurs “the stain of the century”.

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At a press briefing in Beijing on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang rebuffed the criticism.

“The so-called conference on promoting religious freedom has slandered China’s religious policies and the situation of religious belief in China and interfered with China’s internal affairs,” he said.

“The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposes it.”

China has rounded up an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minorities into re-education camps in tightly controlled Xinjiang region, in the country’s northwest.

Beijing has defended its policy, describing the sites as vocational training centres and saying it is trying to root out extremism.

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Geng said that the comments from Pompeo and Vice President Pence — who also criticised China’s record on human rights at the meeting — had “completely confused right and wrong and reversed black and white”.

“They even mixed and colluded with cultists, which again exposed their hideous face and hypocritical features,” added Geng.

“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.”

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Pompeo said that details of the group, dubbed the International Religious Freedom Alliance, were still being worked out but that it would “bring like-minded countries together” to make the issue a priority.

The Trump administration has generally played down human rights other than with adversaries. But it has put a high priority on religious freedom, an important issue for Trump’s evangelical Christian base.

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Pence also pledged to support religious freedom in North Korea this week, which advocacy groups say is perhaps the world’s most repressive state, where even possession of the Bible is banned.


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Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year

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Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, the magazine announced Wednesday.

The 16-year-old has found herself in the role of spokesperson for a generation haunted by climate emergency since her solo strike against global warming outside Sweden's parliament last year.

The magazine cover has a picture of Thunberg with the subtitle "The Power of Youth."

.@GretaThunberg is TIME's 2019 Person of the Year #TIMEPOY https://t.co/YZ7U6Up76v pic.twitter.com/SWALBfeGl6

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Ex-Bush official shreds Barr for serving Trump’s ‘authoritarian’ ambitions

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MSNBC's Elise Jordan busted Attorney General William Barr's hypocrisy on surveillance.

The "Morning Joe" contributor and former White House official in the George W. Bush administration, where Barr also served -- and helped build the surveillance state before going on to work for telecommunications companies that turned over customer data to the government.

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Blast damages hospital near biggest US base in Afghanistan

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At least one person was killed and dozens wounded when a bomb exploded close to the largest US military base in Afghanistan Wednesday, damaging homes and a hospital under construction near Bagram Airfield, officials said.

The attack -- which has not yet been claimed -- comes as Washington resumed talks with the Taliban on Saturday, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted diplomatic efforts that could end America's longest war.

"The explosion happened in front of the gate of the Korean hospital which is almost adjacent to Bagram airfield," Parwan governor spokeswoman Wahida Shahkar said, referring to the US airbase located north of Kabul, in Parwan province.

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