U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Communist-run China as “the gravest threat to the future of religious freedom” Thursday in Indonesia, the last stop of his four nation regional tour.
Secretary Pompeo praised the majority-Muslim nation’s embrace of democracy and tolerance of other religions during a speech in Jakarta before Nahdlatul Ulama, a liberal Muslim group that acts as a counterweight against hardline lslamic movements.
Calling on religious leaders “to be a moral witness” and speak out on behalf of people of all faiths, Pompeo touched on China’s “war” against Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and practitioners of the outlawed Falun Gong sect.
The top U.S. diplomat specifically mentioned Beijing’s “brutalization” of the ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, where they are subject to a brutal crackdown by Communist Chinese authorities, including the mass incarceration of as many as one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in detention centers.
China denies mistreating Uighurs and says the centers provide vocational training and are needed to tackle extremism and promote development.
Pompeo said Chinese authorities ‘have spun fantastic tales of happy Uighurs, eager to discard their ethnic, religious and cultural identities to become ‘modern’.”
Pompeo also addressed the “violent oppression” of Muslim Rohingyas at the hands of Mynamar’s military, and the Iranian regime’s persecution of Baha’is, Christians, Sunni Muslims and other minority groups.
Pompeo’s stop in Indonesia comes after visits to New Delhi, Colombo, Sri Lanka and Male, Maldives. He said last week he will discuss “commercial issues, security issues, and diplomatic issues” and affirm the two countries’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific in meetings with Indonesian leaders, including with President Joko Widodo.