November 20, 2015 / 10:15 AM / in 3 years

China accuses EU of 'prejudice' for rights censure

BEIJING (Reuters) - China accused the European Union of prejudice and ignoring the facts on Friday after the EU’s special representative for human rights expressed concern about the rights situation in the country.

Stavros Lambrinidis said he was worried by China’s arrest and harassment of lawyers and activists and new security laws that could be used to curtail freedom of expression, according to statement issued after his trip.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the statement “ignored the facts”.

It “turned a blind eye to the development of human rights in China, made irresponsible comments about China’s legislative and judicial work, is an interference in China’s internal affairs and does not accord with the spirit of the rule of law”, he said.

China is resolutely opposed to the comments, Hong added.

“We urge the European side to immediately change its tune, abandon its ideological prejudices, justly and objectively view the development of human rights in China.”

Human rights groups and Western countries have expressed repeated concern about a widening campaign by President Xi Jinping to quash any dissent among academics, journalists and social activists.

“Rule of law requires lawyers that can practise freely without fear of persecution and provide checks and balances against the miscarriage of justice,” Lambrinidis was quoted as saying in the statement.

China strongly denies abusing human rights and says it is a country with rule of law and only targets those who have broken the law.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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