Hillary Clinton has come under fire for her attitude to China’s human rights record after it emerged that a dozen dissidents were placed under house arrest during her trip.
Before travelling to the People’s Republic on Friday for a two day visit, the new American Secretary of State, said she would not let the issue “interfere” with efforts to resolve the global economic crisis and combating climate change.
Human rights groups claimed her comments lifted the pressure on Beijing to address the issue, making it easier for the Chinese to justify fresh restrictions on dissidents.
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“I am under house arrest because Hilary Clinton came,” said Zeng Jinyan, the wife of China’s most prominent activist Hu Jia, via an email message.
Mrs Zeng said she had been told by the police who monitor her that she and her baby daughter would not be allowed outside. Her husband is serving a three-and-half-year prison sentence.
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Mrs Clinton’s failure to press Beijing on human rights appears to contradict the desire of President Obama to restore America’s reputation, after the Bush administration was criticised for flouting international law by torturing terrorist suspects and detaining them indefinitely.