China says U.S. can't slam others on rights when it has racism problems at home

A pro-democracy protester holds a portrait of Liu Xia, the wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, during a protest to call for the freeing of Chinese dissidents outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that the United States has no right to confront other countries on their human rights records when it faces problems with racism and mistreatment of prisoners at home.

Both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. ambassador to China Max Baucus issued statements on Wednesday to mark International Human Rights Day in which they mentioned cases such as the imprisoned Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said it was hypocritical of the United States to do this considering its own poor record, in apparent reference to recent protests over the killings of unarmed black men and a U.S. Senate report on the torture of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The United States has no right to pose as arbiters and at every turn point their fingers at other countries’ human rights as racism and mistreatment of prisoners and other serious problems in the United States are facts now known to all,” Hong told a daily news briefing.

China and the United States often spar about each other’s human rights records, and on Wednesday, Beijing urged Washington to “correct its ways” following the torture report.

China’s criticism of the United States has come in the same week that a Chinese court handed down sentences of up to eight years in prison to seven students of jailed scholar Ilham Tohti, a member of the Muslim Uighur minority, in the western region of Xinjiang, in a case that has attracted concern in the West.

The United States was ignoring the facts about the great strides China has made to improve human rights, Hong said.

“The United States is not looking at the facts and intentionally smearing China’s rights situation, exposing even more the U.S. hypocrisy and double standards on the issue of human rights,” he added.

“We advise the U.S. side to reflect on and correct its own human rights problems and stop their unwarranted attacks on China.”

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ryan Woo