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China Lashes Out at US For Criticizing Beijing's Human Rights Record

The Chinese government is lashing out at the United States following the release of the U.S. State Department's Wednesday annual report on human rights - which was severely critical of China.

The Chinese government has made a tradition of responding to Washington's annual human rights report by issuing a report of its own. This year, China's cabinet Thursday accused the United States of - among other things - allowing urban violence, racial discrimination, and abuse of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang says the U.S. should look at its own problems before criticizing others.

"The U.S. State Department's so-called Annual Country Human Rights Report is not based on facts and is without reason to criticize China's human rights situation. We express strong dissatisfaction and resolutely oppose it," he said.

The U.S. report criticized Beijing's persistent practice of cracking down on dissidents, and censoring the Internet. Along with Iran, it named China among the most systematic of the world's human rights violators.

The London-based group Amnesty International has criticized China in much the same way, but officials with the group on Thursday said they have a policy of not ranking countries or making comparisons. Amnesty East Asia researcher Mark Allison in Hong Kong says, however, that China is still far from meeting international human rights standards.

"The Chinese government has passed some new laws and made good statements about the importance of protecting human rights but we're really not seeing that implemented on the ground, in any significant way, which means that people can be detained or arrested now for exactly the same reasons that they were detained or arrested five or 10 years ago."

China routinely rejects criticism and defends its record by employing its own definition of human rights, which Beijing defines as people's basic right to material things like food and shelter.

Chinese officials, however, say they use what they call the international definition of the term "human rights" in their criticism of the United States' record.