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China hits back at US criticism

BBC | March 9 2006

China has hit back at US criticism of its human rights record by releasing its own document of alleged US abuses.
Washington said in its annual rights report that China was one of the world's "most systematic" offenders.

In return Beijing urged the US to "look squarely" at its own problems, such as a high murder rate and jail population.

While China often rejects US criticism of its rights record, this exchange is especially sensitive due to President Hu Jintao's visit to the US next month.

The report issued by China's cabinet, the State Council, on Thursday listed "a multitude of cases to show the serious violations of human rights both in and outside the US," according to state news agency Xinhua.

"As in previous years, the US State Department pointed the finger at human rights situations in more than 190 countries and regions, but kept silent on the violations of human rights in the United States," the report said.

It described alleged abuses including secret surveillance, police abuse, racial discrimination and wrongful convictions.

"The United States has always boasted itself as the model of democracy, and hawked its mode of democracy to the rest of the world, but in fact, American 'democracy' is always one for the wealthy and a 'game for the rich'," it added.

Increased censorship

In its own report, issued on Wednesday, Washington was equally scathing about Beijing's human rights record, saying it "remained poor".

The report accused the Chinese government of "serious abuses" and noted a trend towards increased "harassment, detention and imprisonment, by government and security authorities, of those perceived as threatening".

It also detailed a "significant" increase in protests and public disturbances, saying that "several incidents were violently suppressed", and accused China of increasing censorship of the internet.

But the State Department report did mention that there were "notable developments" in Chinese legal reforms, as well as greater personal freedoms and increased protection of some religious activities.

At a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian affairs Christopher Hill that that when President Hu visited Washington in April, he hoped to engage the Chinese leader "on a broad range of human rights and religious freedom topics".

The US report also singled out Burma and North Korea for criticism.

In Burma, extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and beatings of prisoners and detainees continued, the report said.

In North Korea, "extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and arbitrary detention, including many political prisoners" continued, it said

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