Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters that the government respects and ensures citizens' right to freedom of religion and belief, which is enshrined in the constitution and ensured in practice.

The State Department's report, which covers religious freedom around the world, said this week that the Vietnamese Communist government continued to limit activities of unrecognized religious groups and that religious leaders, particularly those of unregistered groups and those from ethnic minorities, reported various forms of governmental harassment, including physical assaults, short-term detention, prosecutions, monitoring, restrictions on travel and property seizure or destruction.

Hang noted that the report did make some adjustments that are "close to reality" in Vietnam.

"However, it's regretted that the report still contained partial judgments, citing false information about Vietnam," she said.

More than half of Vietnam's 93 million people are identified as Buddhists while Roman Catholics number second accounting for about 7 percent of the population.

Vietnamese government maintains tight control over the society, the media and religions even though the ruling Communist Party launched economic reforms nearly four decades ago that opened up the country to foreign trade and investment.

The Associated Press - August 17, 2017