China responds to Human Rights Watch
China says rights criticisms come from 'thin air'
|Reuters[Thursday, January 19, 2006 17:21]|
|BEIJING - China lashed out at an international human rights group for its routinely dim assessments on Thursday, but also said it had room to improve citizens' rights.|
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based organization that campaigns against political repression and torture, said in its annual worldwide report that China remained beset by widespread abuses of citizens' rights.
The report, released on Wednesday, said the Chinese government had reacted to growing unrest among its people "with a multi-faceted crackdown on demonstrators and their allies and with repression of means for disseminating information and organizing protest, particularly the Internet".
Kong Quan, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, told reporters he had not bothered to read the report.
"The Human Rights Watch organization has always held a strong prejudice against China's government, people and realities. Its annual reports always patch together claims out of thin air that are entirely politically motivated," he said at a regular briefing.
Human Rights Watch's report listed a series of issues where it said China was increasing, rather than relaxing, repressive controls.
Closed trials, a lack of an independent judiciary, and vague and arbitrary laws cut against rule of law, it said. And the government monitors China's 100 million-plus Internet users with increasingly sophisticated and intrusive technology.
Over 60 Chinese citizens are imprisoned "for peaceful expression over the Internet", the report said.
Xinjiang, the western Chinese region largely populated by Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic-speaking group, faced tightening repression, as did Tibet, the report said.
"Chinese authorities appear determined to eradicate an independent cultural identity," it said of the Uighurs.
Kong said China had made "unprecedented" efforts to improve citizens' legal rights. But he said China also recognizes it needs to improve.
"As in other developing countries constrained by natural conditions, history and levels of politics and economic development, China does have room for improvement," he said.