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Thursday, March 08, 2007

US Says China's Human-Rights Record Worsening

While politicians still boost that engaging with China is the key to democratizing China - we are hit with the sad reality and getting opposite results -- their barbaric ways have not lessened one bit. It's time for politicians to get rid of the fear of upsetting China, face the music and talk openly and frankly about their human rights violations. China is so co-dependant on our resources that they're not in a position to pull the plug on trade anytime soon.

Updates with Chinese response to report, quotes from U.S. State Department official

WASHINGTON (AP)--China's already poor human rights record has deteriorated further, the U.S. said Tuesday, with officials harassing and arresting reporters, activists and defense lawyers seeking to exercise their lawful rights.

The State Department's global human rights report faulted China for endemic corruption, discrimination against women and minorities, government control of courts and judges and Internet censorship.

China also failed to protect refugees, and the report described the forced repatriation of North Koreans trying to flee into China as a grave problem.

Minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang were said to have endured severe cultural and religious repression.

"Former detainees credibly reported that officials used electric shocks, beatings, shackles and other forms of abuse," the report said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. should stop interfering with other countries' internal affairs and pay more attention to its own rights violations. China, the statement said, has made important progress in human rights.

China quickly lashes out against U.S. criticism of its rights record. After last year's report, China denounced the U.S. for rampant violence and widespread discrimination against minorities.

Barry Lowenkron, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, spoke of Chinese wariness with a growing community of non-governmental groups.

"Chinese officials probably still view civil society as part of a problem rather than part of a solution to help in terms of environment and health and so forth," he told reporters at a briefing after the report's release.

The State Department also found that China:

-tightened restrictions on press and speech freedoms.

-used forced prison labor.

-maintained closed trials.

-executed people on the day of their conviction or immediately after an

appeal was denied.

-restricted people trying to assemble, practice religion and travel.

The report said that practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement estimated to have died in custody through torture, abuse and neglect since a government crackdown started in 1999 range from several hundred to a few thousand. Falun Gong includes elements of Taoism, Buddhism, as well as meditation and exercises. China considers the movement an "evil cult."

The report noted "some criminal and judicial reforms," including new procedures by China's highest court for hearing death penalty cases.

Lowenkron said some promising ideas on how to change the nature of Chinese court proceedings appear to be "dead in the water."

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