Thursday, February 22, 2024

China hits back at critical US human rights report

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BEIJING: China hit back on Friday at the US State Department’s annual survey of human rights, saying that only the Chinese people could pass judgement on what the Foreign Ministry said were the country’s obvious achievements in the area.

Asked about criticism of China contained in the report, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei condemned it for being prejudiced.

“The United States State Department’s annual report on human rights maligns other countries, and the content concerning China ignores the facts and is filled will prejudice, confusing black and white,” he told a daily news briefing.

Since the launch of landmark economic reforms more than three decades ago, Hong said: “China’s human rights endeavours have made achievements that are plain for all the world to see. The Chinese people themselves have the most right to speak about China’s human rights situation”.

“In human rights, there is no such thing as the best; there is only doing even better,” he added.

Human rights have long been a source of friction between China and the United States, especially since 1989 when the United States and other Western countries imposed sanctions on China after a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

China rejects criticism of its rights’ record, saying providing food, clothing, housing and economic growth are far more relevant for developing countries like it, pointing to its success at lifting millions out of poverty. Hong said each country could exchange views and lessons on human rights through “dialogue on an equal footing”.

“By no means should these issues be used as tools to meddle in the domestic affairs of other countries. We hope that the United States will truly take a long, hard look at itself and put an end to its mistaken ways and thinking.”

The State Department said in its lengthy section on China the government had stepped up efforts to silence activists and rights lawyers, with authorities resorting to extra-legal measures including enforced disappearance and house arrest.

Under an “arbitrary arrest” section, the State Department catalogued harassment of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who arrived in New York last weekend after weeks at the centre of a US-China standoff following his dramatic escape from house arrest and flight to the US embassy in Beijing.

Chen, who is preparing to study at the New York University School of Law, has voiced fears his family and supporters will suffer more abuse.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, the self-taught lawyer urged the Chinese government to prosecute “lawless” officials who he said harassed and abused him, his family and supporters, saying such prosecutions could help China establish the rule of law.

While not naming Chen, China’s top state newspaper accused the United States and other Western powers in two commentaries on Friday of exploiting human rights tension in a bid to subvert Communist Party rule and hobble the country’s rise.

Dozens of Chinese teachers working in over 60 Confucius Institutes in America will have to leave for home by next month following a US directive to re-classify their visas, which Chinese officials say would affect the friendship between the two countries.

Reacting to the order, Confucius Institute headquarters here said it regrets the directive as all of its centres around the world, including those on US campuses, were voluntarily requested by foreign partners and jointly operated with Chinese colleges, state run Xinhua quoted an official as saying.The US move was termed by the official media here as targeting Confucius Institutes. About 600 Chinese teachers currently work in the US. (Agencies)

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