BEIJING (Reuters) - China accused the United States on Sunday of spying on its own citizens, discriminating against women and ethnic minorities and allowing gun crime to run out of control, in Beijing’s annual rebuttal to Washington’s criticism of its rights record.
The U.S. government’s yearly survey of human rights around the world issued last week said that repression and coercion in China were routine, especially for rights activists and people living in Tibet and the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang.
In a lengthy report issued by the official Xinhua news agency, China said the United States would do better to deal with its own problems than lambaste others as it had no right to be a “world judge”.
“As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China,” Beijing said.
“However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it.”
The report, without a hint of irony in acknowledging China’s sprawling domestic security and intelligence apparatus, took the United States to task for spying on its own citizens, pointing to a 2012 bill that “authorizes warrantless wiretapping”.
Federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ communications, the report said, referencing documents collected by the American Civil Liberties Union. The National Security Agency eavesdrops on phone calls and intercepts emails, it added.
American police also “often abused their power,” and more U.S. women became victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in 2012, Xinhua said.
“The lives and personal security of the United States citizens, who were haunted by serious violent crimes, were not duly protected,” it added.
China’s report said that the United States failed to pass gun control measures even after two high-profile mass shootings, endangering its own citizens.
Women and ethnic minorities in the United States were discriminated against too, it said.
“Religious discrimination is also rapidly on the rise, with an increase in insults and attacks against Muslims.”
Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989, when the U.S. imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Sanjeev Miglani