May 12, 2011 / 8:26 PM / 9 years ago

China "unhappy" with support for detained artist

A worker attaches a banner showing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, to the Lisson Gallery in London May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese government said on Tuesday it was “unhappy” with foreign support for detained artist and activist Ai Weiwei, after Ai’s detention last week sparked an outcry from Washington and other Western governments.

“The Chinese people also feel baffled — why do some people in some countries treat a crime suspect as a hero?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news conference.

“The Chinese people are unhappy about this. No matter what influence they have had, they will be punished according to the law.”

Hong’s comments come after China said on Sunday that the United States was beset by violence, racism and torture and had no authority to condemn other governments’ human rights problems, countering U.S. criticism of Beijing’s crackdown..

In Hungary, current holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying said Ai was not raised during talks in Budapest with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

“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 made no public comment on the artist.

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Additional reporting by Marton Dunai in Budapest; Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ken Wills and Jon Boyle

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