BEIJING (Reuters) - China accused Washington of hypocrisy on Friday for its criticism of Beijing’s restrictions on the Internet and dissent, blaming the United States for the financial crisis and saying its own rights record was terrible.
In its annual survey of human rights in 194 countries issued on Thursday, the U.S. State Department criticized China, along with Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea and Russia.
China’s State Council Information Office, or cabinet spokesman’s office, issued its own annual assessment of the United States’ human rights record in response, and this year it dwelt on America’s economic woes.
“The United States not only has a terrible domestic human rights record, it is also the main source of many human rights disasters worldwide,” the Chinese report said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
“Especially a time when the world is suffering serious human rights disasters caused by the global financial crisis sparked by the U.S. sub-prime crisis, the U.S. government has ignored its own grave human rights problems and reveled in accusing other countries.”
Washington has long criticized of China on human rights, and the subject has added to recent tensions with Beijing, which has also pushed back over arms sales to Taiwan and President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader.
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since their split in 1949 amid civil war, and reviles the Dalai Lama as a “separatist” for seeking self-rule for his Himalayan homeland.
China’s Foreign Ministry, in a separate statement, also condemned U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi for comments earlier this week honoring “the many brave Tibetans who have sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom.”
"We advise the relevant U.S. congresswoman to respect the facts, abandon her prejudices and stop using the Tibet issue to interfere in China's internal affairs," spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement on the ministry's website (www.fmprc.gov.cn).
China’s Internet controls have also thrust Beijing into a dispute with search engine giant Google, which has said it may shut down its Chinese-language Google.cn portal and draw back from the Chinese market out of concerns over censorship and a hacking attack from within the country.
China has intensified restrictions on the Internet, imposed tight control over people seen as threats to Communist Party rule, and increased repression of Uighurs after ethnic violence and riots in Xinjiang, the country’s restive far-western region, said the State Department report.
China’s Communist Party authorities have shown little patience with Western criticisms of Beijing’s punishment of political dissidents and protesters.
Late last year, U.S. officials decried the sentencing of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in jail on charges of “inciting subversion.”
The latest Chinese counter-blast to U.S. criticisms said Washington should concentrate on “improving its own human rights.”
Reporting by Chris Buckley and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alex Richardson