China asks foreigners not to interfere in religious affairs

China has warned foreign organizations and individuals against interfering in religious affairs of Chinese citizens. The warming came in a white paper entitled, “Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang,” issued on Thursday.

“China … will never allow any foreign organization or individual to interfere with China’s religious affairs,” the white paper said. China’s religious undertakings are run by its own religious groups, personnel or citizens, and the country’s religious affairs or organizations are “not subject to any foreign domination,” it stated.

The warning comes in the wake of reports that a significant number of people in China’s western province of Xinjiang, are slipping out of the country to join Islamic State warriors. Chinese officials have earlier expressed concern that fundamentalist organizations were using the Internet to misguide Xinjiang people to wrong ways.

The government issued a law restricting foreign non-government organizations engaged in religious and political activities a few weeks back.

“No citizen suffers discrimination or unfair treatment for believing in, or not believing in, any religion,” the white paper said.

“As a provincial-level administrative region of China, Xinjiang sticks to the principle of independence and self-management in terms of its religious affairs,” it said.

Western human rights groups often complain that minorities in Xinjiang are discriminated and repressed by government authorities.

But the white paper said that in Xinjiang, “the positive role of religious circles in promoting economic development and social stability is well displayed, the government’s capability of administrating religious affairs is constantly strengthened, international exchanges in the religious field are being expanded, and the proliferation and spread of religious extremism is being effectively contained,” it noted.