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China must make "space" for freedom of Christians, warns the UN

by Hannah Tooley

The UK was speaking at a UN conference earlier in the week and questioned China's policy on freedom of religion or belief.

It raised concerns over the restrictions of freedom of belief in the communist state, saying: "New laws and regulations affecting media, NGOs and religious groups must expand the space for independent civil society and safeguard religious freedom and belief."

This comes after a significant crackdown on Christians in China during the G20 meeting of world leaders in Zhejiang last month.

House churches were suspended and Christian worshipers and leaders were arrested.

International charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide is welcoming the vocal support of the UK and UN in questioning China's policy on freedom of religion or belief.

Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas, said: "We call on the Chinese authorities to uphold and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief for all people in China, regardless of ethnicity, registration status, religion or belief."

Massacre at Tiananmen Square anniversary - copyright ZUMA/REX

It comes as the UK Government reaffirms it is "robust" when it comes to raising religious persecution in China.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alok Sharma, was responding to a question from the MP Natalie McGarry in writing.

She asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: "What discussions he has had with his Chinese counterpart on reports of the persecution of Christians and other minorities living in China?"

He said that "the Government is concerned by restrictions placed on Christianity in China, such as the demolition of churches, the removal of crosses from buildings, and harassment or detention of individuals for their beliefs."

Mr Sharma stressed that the UK has brought up the issue church demolitions with the Chinese authorities, as well as the death of Ding Cuimei, who reportedly died while protesting the demolition of her church in Zhejiang province.

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