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US says China rights record worsens

world Updated: Feb 26, 2009 07:38 IST
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The United States has charged that China's human rights record was worsening, despite the new US administration's signal that rights will take a back seat in ties with the rising Asian power.

The annual State Department report on human rights on Wednesday said that China stepped up repression last year in Tibet and Xinjiang, restricting dissent and religious freedom.

"The government's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas," the report said.

The report came days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Beijing and said that rights concerns should not hinder cooperation between the countries on issues such as the economic crisis and climate change -- a stance that drew howls of protest from human rights groups.

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.

In a striking departure under President Barack Obama, Clinton said that the United States would also try to uphold human rights in the United States.

But the State Department report did not hold back on China, saying that its record had "deteriorated severely" in Tibet.

China last year cracked down on major protests in Lhasa in March, the anniversary of the 1959 uprising in which Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama went into exile.