BEIJING China's top newspaper slammed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday for comments she made lauding democracy and implicitly criticizing restrictions in China, saying those Asian countries that ape U.S. democracy were doomed to fail.
Earlier this week, Clinton held up Mongolia's sometimes messy politics as a democratic model for Asia. While she did not directly name China, her comments appeared aimed partly at Beijing.
In China's first response to her remarks, ruling Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said Clinton was acting as a "preacher for human rights" by praising certain countries to obliquely attack China.
"Who is the United States to haughtily appraise Asia's democratic position?" the newspaper said in a commentary.
Asian countries were now booming, unlike Western countries stuck in the morass of economic crisis, proving they could go down "a path different from the West and create political systems which suit their national characteristics".
"Experience proves that it is those Asian countries which 'draw a tiger with a cat as a model' and mechanically copy the U.S. democratic system which ... lag in development, and even today some of these countries have not recovered," it said.
Clinton is due at a regional security forum in Cambodia on Thursday, which Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will also attend.
China and the United States are closely entwined economically and increasingly on the diplomatic front, but they have clashed repeatedly over issues ranging from Tibet and Taiwan to trade and the value of the Chinese currency.
The commentary added that the United States had ulterior motives for pushing democracy in Asia.
"In reality, lauding democracy and holding the flag for human rights is an important part of the U.S. 'return to Asia' strategy," it said.
But the United States has failed to understand how Asia has changed because it has let its attention slip in the region, the newspaper wrote.
The commentary was published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", meaning "Voice of China", which is often used to give the paper's view on foreign policy issues.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)