China is rejecting criticism of its human rights record in the State
Department's latest annual report on human rights around the world. Meanwhile,
China says people in Tibet - one area highlighted in the report - are happily
celebrating their new year.
China responded quickly to U.S. State
Department criticism of it human rights record.
Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters Thursday China is ready to discuss human
rights with any country, but only on the basis of equality and mutual
Ma says the Chinese government urges the American side to
reflect on its own human rights problems, stop acting as a human-rights guardian
and stop using human rights as an excuse to interfere in other countries'
Earlier, China's official Xinhua news agency said the
report "willfully ignored and distorted basic facts, groundlessly assailed
China's human rights conditions" and made "random and irresponsible remarks on
China's ethnic, religious and legal systems."
The United States and China
have different views on human rights and the issue is a regular point of
contention between the two countries.
When Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton was in Beijing, less than one week ago, she emphasized Sino-American
cooperation on combating the financial crisis, mitigating climate change and
working on a host of regional and international security issue.
angered human-rights groups, who pointed to comments she made on the trip as an
indication that she was downplaying the importance of human rights in her
discussions with the Chinese.
The State Department report, issued
Wednesday, says the Chinese government's human-rights record remained poor and
worsened, in some areas last year. It especially pointed to "severe cultural
and religious repression" of ethnic minorities in Tibet and in Muslim areas in
Tibetans also are marking their New Year, Losar, which
fell on Wednesday.
Chinese spokesman Ma said the situation in Tibet is
stable and that people in places where the holiday is traditionally celebrated
are celebrating it.
Ma says everyone can see on television that Tibetan
people are, in his words, "jubilant and radiant with joy in celebrating their
He also wished Tibetans well for their new year and said
"tashi delek," which means auspicious in Tibetan.
Tibet has been largely
off limits to foreign journalists following a violent anti-Chinese riot in
Tibet's capital Lhasa, last March. Recent reports say the Chinese government
also has quietly barred foreign tourists from entering Tibet before next month's
50th anniversary of a rebellion against Chinese rule there.
to questions about why foreigners recently have not been able to travel to
Tibet, the spokesman said nobody has been asked by the Chinese government to
keep people away. The Chinese government says foreigners can apply, as usual,
for permits to travel to Tibet, but it has not said when they would be