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China steps up war of words with United States over human rights

Monday, March 14, 2016 - 14:37

[BEIJING] China hit back at the United States over its human rights record on Monday, bringing out government-backed academics to accuse Washington of everything from promoting Islamic State to being a racist plutocracy.

China was infuriated last week when the United States and 11 other countries at the United Nations criticised China's crackdown on human rights and its detentions of lawyers and activists.

At a press conference arranged by the Cabinet's news department for mostly Chinese reporters, four academics at government-run bodies lambasted the United States for what they said was hypocritical criticism of China and others.

Liu Hainian, director of the Human Rights Institution under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, blamed Europe's "refugee wave" on the United States' military involvement in the Middle East which was forcing people to leave their "beautiful homes". "Think about it: certain extremist groups that now exist, including Islamic State, wasn't it the Americans who first off promoted them from behind?" Mr Liu said.

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Closer to home, the United States has a terrible problem with racism, with police in 2015 killing about 1,000 people, he added. "Most of those were people of colour," Mr Liu said.

Chang Jian, vice director of the human rights research centre of Tianjin-based Nankai University, said the US electoral system was being increasingly controlled by Super PACs, committees well-funded by corporate interests. "There are fewer and fewer opportunities for ordinary people to participate in elections," he said.

Chang made no mention of China's own tightly-controlled political system, which was run by the Communist Party without interruption since the 1949 revolution.

Asked about China's own record, Chang said he was not there to talk about China but to talk about the United States, though he said China did not shy away from admitting its own problems.

Both he and Mr Liu avoided answering a question about televised broadcasts of confessions by suspects, often those involved in sensitive human rights cases, which have angered the United States and Europe.

Mr Liu admitted some websites were "probably" blocked or deleted in China, though said this was being done for the sake of protecting the country's young people from pornography, gambling and drugs. "I'm really worried about my grandchildren. I hope they can growth up healthily. This kind of information needs to be removed," he said.

When asked why Chinese media were not allowed to rigorously criticise China's rights record in the same way the US media were able to do in their home country, Mr Liu criticised instead US reporters for their slanted view of China. "Their reports on China are very few and very negative."

REUTERS

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