China tells US ‘to improve its own human rights status’

CHINA yesterday lashed out against American criticism of its human rights record, saying racial discrimination and crime were still rife in the United States and prisoners were being abused at US-run detention centres abroad.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, denounced the United States for what it said were rampant violence and widespread discrimination against minorities in its response to the US State Department’s report on human rights worldwide.

Black people are given heavier criminal penalties, arrested more frequently and are more likely to be targeted for hate crimes, the Chinese report said.

It also criticised American troops for brutality at prisons in Iraq and the detention camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“As in previous years, the State Department pointed the finger at human rights situations in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but kept silent on the serious violations of human rights in the United States,” it said.

The response came one day after the State Department said the Chinese government’s human rights record “remained poor, and the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses”.

The US report said repression worsened in China in 2005, with a trend toward “increased harassment, detention, and imprisonment” of people seen as threats to the Chinese government.

It also mentioned tightened controls over print, broadcast and electronic media and censorship of online content.

The annual State Department study offers a comprehensive analysis of all countries in the world except the United States.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Washington’s report ignored China’s progress in human rights, which he claimed “not only met with the satisfaction of the Chinese people but also has been widely affirmed by the international community”.

He said “Washington should “immediately end the erroneous practice of interfering in other country’s internal politics”.

A large section of the Chinese report was devoted to racial discrimination. “It said the country’s minorities had much lower living standards and incomes and faced job discrimination.

Since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Muslims have been targeted for arrests and detention under “the banner of anti-terrorism,” the report said.

The report also touched on:

* private gun ownership in America, saying the “unchecked spread of guns has caused incessant murders”.

* secret wire taps and surveillance on American citizens under the Patriot Act.

* the poverty rate and the problem of homelessness.

“No country in the world can claim to have a perfect state of human rights,” the Chinese report said.

“We urge the US Government to look squarely at its own human rights problems, reflect what it has done in the human rights field and take concrete measures to improve its own human rights status.”

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