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China Criticizes US Use of Secret Prisons

China has criticized the United States following the confirmation this week by President Bush that the Central Intelligence Agency is running prisons overseas to house terror suspects.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang criticized the United States at a regular briefing Thursday for using the prisons and subjecting inmates to severe interrogation.

He said China advocates that anti-terror efforts should be carried out according to the principles of the United Nations Charter and the basic norms governing international relations.

President Bush on Wednesday said that the CIA has operated prisons in other countries. The U.S. leader said the prison program is a vital tool in America's war against the terrorists.

He said that were it not for the program, U.S. intelligence believes that al-Qaida and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against America.

China has in the past criticized the United States for its handling of five Chinese nationals held at the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

U.S. officials angered Beijing earlier this year when they released the five to Albania, because of Washington's fears that they could face abuse if they were returned to China. Beijing had demanded that the detainees be repatriated for questioning.

When asked whether any Chinese nationals are among those held at CIA-run prisons, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday said reporters should refer that question to the U.S. government.

China, which has its own system of secret prisons, has come under frequent criticism from international human rights organizations and the United States. Advocates have called on Beijing to disclose more about camps where prisoners of conscience and others are subjected to forced labor and other abuses.