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Asia-pacific

Beijing demands US stop human rights interference

Video by Oliver FARRY

Latest update : 2009-02-26

China has told the United States to stop acting as a human rights guardian, just days after a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Beijing appeared to signal a detente between the world powers on the sensitive issue.

AFP - China told the United States Thursday to stop acting as a human rights guardian, as it hit back angrily at US accusations that its human rights record had worsened.
   
The spat comes just days after a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Beijing appeared to signal a detente between the world powers on the sensitive issue.
   
"We firmly oppose any countries interfering in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters.
   
"We urge the US side to reflect on its own human rights problems, stop acting as a human rights guardian, and stop interfering in others' internal affairs by issuing such human rights reports."
   
Ma was reacting to a US State Department report released Wednesday charging that the attitude of Beijing's communist rulers to human rights had worsened last year.
   
The report said China had stepped up repression in Buddhist Tibet and Muslim Xinjiang, restricting dissent and religious freedom in the two western regions, while maintaining heavy censorship of the press.
   
"The government's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas," it said.
   
The report was issued on the same day as Tibetans began their traditional New Year amid heavy security, with their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, urging a boycott of celebrations to mourn those killed under Chinese rule.
   
The Dalai Lama also warned Chinese authorities were plotting a crackdown of "unimaginable" force ahead of the ultra-sensitive March 10 anniversary of a failed uprising 50 years ago that led to the Dalai Lama fleeing.
   
However, Ma defended China's record, while also insisting Tibetans were happily celebrating their New Year.
   
"In the past three decades, China has enjoyed sustained economic growth and made constant progress in democracy... and fully protects religious freedom," he said.
   
"Various ethnic groups enjoy extensive rights and freedom. This is widely witnessed in the world."
   
China's state-controlled media also issued a stern defence of the nation's human rights record.
   
"The report turned a blind eye to the efforts and historic achievements China has made in human rights that have been widely recognised by the international community," Xinhua news agency said.
   
"It wilfully ignored and distorted basic facts, groundlessly assailing China's human rights conditions and making random and irresponsible remarks on China's ethnic, religious and legal systems."
   
The report came after Clinton's weekend visit to Beijing, when she stated that rights concerns should not be allowed to hinder cooperation between the two countries on issues such as economic cooperation.
   
That stance won praise in Beijing, with the state-run media describing her attitude as a relief and China's foreign ministry saying her visit had helped to build mutual understanding.
   
However, the State Department's annual report has long been an irritant for China, which has hit back with its own account of rights abuses in the United States.
   
 

Date created : 2009-02-26

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