BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Friday accused the United States of widespread human rights abuses, including cyber-surveillance and child labor, in Beijing’s annual rebuttal of Washington’s criticism of its rights record.
Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989, when the U.S. imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
In an annual survey of human rights around the world released on Thursday, the United States noted some positive reforms in China, but said Beijing continued to tighten curbs on freedom and activists and step up repression in Tibet and Xinjiang.
In a lengthy response issued by the official Xinhua news agency, China said the United States “carefully concealed and avoided mentioning its own human rights problems”.
The report, without a hint of irony in acknowledging China’s sprawling domestic security and intelligence apparatus, slammed the U.S. surveillance program known as Prism as “a blatant violation of international law”, saying it “seriously infringes on human rights”.
The United States faces rampant gun violence too, it said.
“In 2013, 137 people died in 30 mass killings, which caused four or more deaths each, in the United States,” it said.
The report also took aim at U.S. drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan, a close ally of China’s.
“The U.S. has carried out 376 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, causing deaths of up to 926 civilians,” it said.
The report touched upon a wide range of issues, including unemployment, the alleged use of child laborers in farming, and the use of solitary confinement in U.S. jails.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the United States was exercising double standards.
“The United States always wants to gossip and remark about other countries’ situations, but ignores its own issues. This is a classic double standard,” he told a daily news briefing.
Qin said China issued its own report on U.S. human rights to allow people to see whether the United States, which “wants to be the grand master of human rights”, really has the right to make such judgments.
“The Chinese people are in the best position to judge the human rights situation facing the Chinese people,” he added.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez