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China rejects US human rights accusations

China has rejected a US report that branded it as one of the world's worst human rights offenders, and instead accused Washington of hypocrisy and "serious violations".

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 15:41 IST

China has rejected a US report that branded it as one of the world's worst human rights offenders, and instead accused Washington of hypocrisy and "serious violations".

The US State Department's annual report on human rights released on Wednesday, described China as one of the "most systematic" violators in the world.

"The ... report turns a blind eye to basic facts, making irresponsible accusations about China's human rights situation," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

"We express our strongest dissatisfaction and resolute opposition," he added.

As has become tradition over recent years, China also released its own annual report outlining what it said were a litany of US human rights abuses and offenses.

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

"For years, the US government has ignored and concealed deliberately serious violations of human rights in its own country for fear of criticism.

We urge the US government to look squarely at its own human rights problems, reflect what it has done in the human rights field and take concrete measures to improve its own human rights status," it added.

Among its charges, China said that an estimated 100,000 Iraqis, mostly women and children, had died following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The document, issued by China's cabinet, the State Council, also criticized the United States for the large number of self-maiming and attempted suicides among prisoners held by the US government in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It also accused Washington of secret snooping, including wiretapping and gathering of information on US citizens opposed to the Iraq war.

It further highlighted "rampant violent crimes" in the United States and "serious" racial discrimination.

In its report, the US State Department placed China alongside Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Belarus as nations that deprived "wholesale" or "severely restricted citizens of basic rights".

Those who publicly advocated against Chinese government policies or views or protested against authorities faced harassment, detention and imprisonment, the US report said.

It also highlighted "repression" of minorities and unregistered religious groups.

The human rights counter-accusations come at a potentially sensitive time in bilateral relations, with Chinese President Hu Jintao due to visit the United States next month.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian affairs Christopher Hill said on Wednesday that Washington expected to "engage with President Hu on a broad range of human rights and religious freedom topics" during his trip.

However, Paul Harris, an academic focusing on Sino-US relations at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said the US administration was not expected to play up China's human rights abuses during Hu's trip.

"There won't be any additional criticism of China from the (US) executive branch, and there hasn't been since the war on terrorism began," Harris said.

"The Americans realize they need authoritarian regimes on their side for the war," he added.

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 15:41 IST