China warns against "interference" ahead of U.S. rights talks

BEIJING Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:15am EDT

Pro-democracy protesters carry portraits of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei urging for his release before walking to a China's liaision office in Hong Kong April 10, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Pro-democracy protesters carry portraits of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei urging for his release before walking to a China's liaision office in Hong Kong April 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese government warned on Tuesday against using human rights disputes as what it called a tool to meddle, ahead of talks with the United States that will focus on complaints about Beijing's crackdown on dissent.

The two-day-long human rights dialogue, from Wednesday, with U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner and other Washington officials, will come at a sensitive time over the issue, long a sore point with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his government was willing to discuss rights issues with the United States as equals. But he warned against what Beijing sees as Western over-reaching.

"When it comes to differences between China and the United States over human rights, the two sides can enhance mutual understanding on a basis of equality and mutual respect," Hong told a regular news conference.

"We oppose any country using human rights issues as an excuse to interfere in China's domestic affairs."

China's position augurs little movement from the talks in Beijing. China has jailed, detained or placed in secretive informal custody dozens of dissidents, human rights lawyers and protesters it fears will challenge Communist Party rule, drawing an outcry from Washington and other Western capitals.

Beijing police have also detained or placed under house arrest members of a Protestant "house" church who have tried to worship outside after they were evicted from the rented premises they had been using.

The U.S. State Department has said it wants to discuss with China "the recent negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detention, and arrests and convictions".

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that she was "deeply concerned" about China's clampdown and cited "negative trends", including the detention of Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei.

Ai, 53, was detained on April 3 as he was about to board a flight to Hong Kong from Beijing. Chinese police said Ai, a critic of China's ruling Communist Party, was under investigation for "suspected economic crimes".

Hong dismissed foreign criticism of the detention of Ai.

"China does not fear the antagonism of other countries, but of course I hope the countries concerned and their publics will be patient in waiting the outcome of the public security investigation into Ai Weiwei," he said.

Ai's sister, Gao Ge, told Reuters that she hoped pressure from the United States would help free her brother, who she said was being persecuted for his outspoken activism.

"Of course I really hope that Weiwei's case is bought up, that he is supported," she said of the rights dialogue. "I think the whole world is paying attention."

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Comments (2)
seansarto1 wrote:
My impression is that the Chinese aristocracy has gained some inroads with the US aristocracy…Specifically the so called “we’ll hire somebody to throw you under the truck” “playa” liberals…The Bob Dylan “I am not a protest singer, I just sing protest songs” crowd….Partners in crime…So the Chinese aristocrats, (the hipster “on the move” crowd), made a deal to jail an artist just so they could prove how, people like Bob Dylan are helping change their country..and then use the release of this artist as political currency to give people like Dylan, Obama, Springsteen, U2, and now scumbags like Jay-Z “face” so they can enter China and tap the markets without appearing as hypocrites in the eyes of the world …”See how smart the monkey is..When we are partners in crime!”…It is a bait and switch media scam…Like the Trump and Deniro..These clowns, the current US admin and Human “Rights” contingent are losing their credibility..because they were frauds from the get-go…and so now they figure they will play China..and I do mean “play”…

Apr 26, 2011 7:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mike10613 wrote:
When the US closes Guantánamo Bay they can take the high moral ground and criticise other countries. China has reasons for being strict about social unrest. I don’t agree with troops on the streets; it could be more understanding and diplomatic; but it is making an effort and moving in the right direction. They have a huge population and workers on 50 cents an hour. It doesn’t help when Google executives go there strutting their stuff telling a government what to do. http:// mike10613.wordpress.com

Apr 26, 2011 1:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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