China's foreign ministry has swiftly rejected claims made by the U.S. ambassador to Beijing that China's human rights record is worsening in the face of pro-democracy protests in the Middle East. Ambassador Gary Locke told a U.S. television program, the Charlie Rose Show, on Monday that China's human rights climate is "in a down period and it's getting worse." Locke said that that Chinese leaders were actively cracking down on dissent following the wave of protests that destabilized or brought down governments in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. The Ambassador said Chinese leaders were afraid they could face similar protests. But Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Tuesday that Locke's comments were "inconsistent with the facts." Speaking to reporters at a regular press briefing, Liu insisted that China respects human rights and that those imprisoned were in violation of Chinese law.