China Criticizes U.S. Human Rights Allegations

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese state media on Thursday blasted a U.S.
State Department report criticizing its human rights record,
calling the allegations groundless and accusing Washington of
interfering in its internal affairs.

The report issued in Washington on Wednesday accuses China of
stepping up cultural and religious repression of minorities in
Tibet and elsewhere, and increasing the detention and harassment of
dissidents.

It said authorities continued to limit citizens' right to
privacy, freedom of speech, assembly, movement and association.
Authorities also committed extrajudicial killings and torture,
coerced confessions from prisoners and used forced labor, the U.S.
report said.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said the report interfered
in the country's internal affairs and ignored China's achievements
in human rights, which Beijing defines mainly as improvements to
living standards.

"It willfully ignored and distorted basic facts, groundlessly
assailing China's human rights conditions and making random and
irresponsible remarks on China's ethnic, religious and legal
systems," Xinhua said.

The report, issued every year since 1977, is used by Washington
as "an excuse to interfere with others' internal affairs," Xinhua
said.

China's communist authorities had no immediate statement on the
report, although Xinhua generally serves as the government's
mouthpiece.

Beijing last year carried out a massive crackdown on sometimes
violent anti-government protesters in Tibetan areas and reported a
nearly doubling of arrests for state security crimes in the
volatile Muslim western region of Xinjiang. Authorities rejected
requests to stage peaceful protests during the August Beijing
Olympics. Authorities also harassed and detained intellectuals and
dissidents who signed a call for greater political freedoms titled
"Charter '08."

One of the country's best-known human rights activists, Hu Jia,
was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and the law firm that
represented him and other activists has been ordered to close for
six months for helping lawyers without licenses to work.


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