Barack Obama

Hu concedes China needs human rights improvements

China's President Hu Jintao (R) has his translator repeat a question in Chinese, concerning human rights, during his joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao, asked a second time about human rights at a Washington news conference, said “a lot still needs to be done” in China on rights while insisting enormous progress has been made.

Hu did not respond to an initial question about human rights at the White House news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Asked why, he blamed translation and technical problems.

“China is always committed to the protection and promotion of human rights,” Hu said.

Hu was asked about the topic after Obama used part of his opening statement at the news conference to say the United States supports dialogue between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama and wants Beijing to respect the religious rights of the Tibetan people.

Hu said China respects the “universality of human rights,” and said he has spoken candidly on this subject many times with Obama.

He said “a lot still needs to be done” on human rights in China and he said China is willing to have a dialogue on the issue on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference into China’s internal affairs.

China traditionally rejects criticism of its human rights record as interference in its internal affairs.