China Admits to More Unrest While Fears Abound Regarding Religious Freedom

China has confirmed that another Tibetan was killed on Tuesday in what appears to be the second episode of unrest this week between Chinese security forces and Buddhist Tibetans protesting religious repression in the country.

China's official news agency, Xinhua, said that a mob of protesters attacked a police station on Tuesday with "gasoline bottles, knives and stones" and said that one "rioter" was killed in the violence.

On Tuesday, China criticized human rights groups for allegedly exaggerating accounts regarding unrest between the Chinese police and Tibetan protesters that occurred the day before.

Human rights and Tibetan advocacy groups said that Chinese security forces opened fire on thousands of Tibetan protesters on Monday in China's Sichuan province. A report from Radio Free Asia suggests that as many as six people were killed and several others wounded in Monday's clashes.

China's official news agency, Xinhua, quoted Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as saying that human rights groups distorted the truth.

The agency offered an entirely different perspective of Monday's events describing the group of protesters as volatile and said that they were "wielding knives and hurling stones" and damaging police vehicles.

"The attempts over overseas secessionist groups involving Tibet to distort the truth and discredit the Chinese government will not succeed," Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, as quoted by Xinhua.

Lei retracted accounts from human rights groups, arguing that one man was killed and nine people injured in the unrest, five of which were Chinese security forces.

Nevertheless, the events going on in the remote area in the Sichuan province are difficult to verify as the Chinese government has barred foreign journalists from accessing the area.

The unrest between Chinese security forces comes on the heels of much concern that Chinese President Hu Jintao and China's Communist Party will be tightening the reigns of freedom in the country in 2012, a year where a leadership transition is slated to occur and the recent and deadly crackdowns on Buddhist Tibetans is sending alarming signals about China's overall treatment of religious minorities.

Bob Fu of China Aid spoke to The Christian Post earlier this month and expressed his concern that China is heading in the direction of a quasi-fascist state. Fu believes that China in 2012 is likely to see an increase in government crackdowns on freedoms, minority groups, and religious groups.

"Given leadership transition in fall of 2012 we do expect a much harsher year, even more so than 2011, although 2011 already marked the worst in terms of religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law in two decades," Fu said.

Release International, a religious persecution group, also projected that China will be upping its defense against Christianity in the new year. The group named China, along with North Korea, as a top Christian "persecution hot spot" for 2012.

China is home to the world's largest persecuted church, with some estimates suggesting that there are as many as 130 million Christians in the country.

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