May 13, 2011 / 3:47 AM / in 6 years

China defends detention of artist Ai Weiwei

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A senior Chinese diplomat, on a visit to Hungary on Thursday, defended the government’s detention of artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying made the comments after talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, although Fu said Ai was not raised during their discussions.

”There are rules and laws in China that need to be applied just like here,“ Fu said. ”And individuals, maybe they are your friends, maybe they agree with you more than others, but that should not make (them) ... above the law.

“It is very condescending for the Europeans to come in to tell China that some people are beyond the law,” Fu said.

Ashton, who was visiting Hungary, current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, made no comment on the artist. She was also scheduled to hold talks with China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

The Chinese government said last month that it was “unhappy” with foreign support for Ai after his detention earlier in the month sparked an outcry from Washington and other Western governments.

Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Jon Boyle

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