CHINA> National
Human rights report decried
By Zhang Haizhou and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-27 07:34

China Thursday denounced US criticism of its human rights record in an annual report, saying Washington should first put its own house in order.

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The US State Department report issued in Washington on Wednesday - three days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Beijing - criticized China's policies toward ethnic groups and religious beliefs, and its judicial system.

"We urge the US to examine its own human rights problems and not use human rights as an excuse or publish human rights reports in order to interfere with others' internal affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular briefing.

He said China nurtured a high level of "protection and respect" for human rights.

"During the 30 years of development and reform, we have seen a continuous development of the economy; religious freedom has been protected; and all of China's ethnic groups increasingly enjoy more and more freedoms and rights," Ma said.

China is willing to engage in dialogues and exchanges with all countries on human rights issues on the basis of equality and mutual respect, he added.

The Information Office of the State Council also issued a report on the US human rights record in response.

"The US practice of throwing stones at others while living in a glass house is a testimony to the double standards and hypocrisy of the United States in dealing with human rights issues and has undermined its international image," the report said.

"Respect for, and protection of, human rights is an important indication of civilization and the progress of human society.

"Every government shoulders a common responsibility to commit itself to the improvement of human rights conditions."

This is the 10th consecutive year the Information Office of China's State Council has issued a US human rights report in response to the US State Department's annual report.

Human rights did not appear high on Hillary Clinton's agenda when she visited Beijing last weekend.

"Our pressing on human rights issues can't interfere" with dialogue on other crucial matters, the US secretary of state said.

University of Michigan China studies expert Kenneth Lieberthal told China Daily human rights is just one element of Washington's and Beijing's relationship, and "should not get in the way of addressing other issues", such as the economic crisis and climate change.

A comprehensive and practical approach might cultivate better progress on human rights, he said.