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Clinton slams China’s human rights record
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said recently that China’s human rights record is “deplorable,” and said that attempts to stifle disagreement and free speech are a “fool’s errand.”
Clinton made these remarks during an interview with The Atlantic magazine, where she also said that China’s recent crackdown on opposition protesters is most likely a reaction to the series of uprisings that are occurring in North Africa and the Middle East, the International Business Times said.
Clinton said, “They’re [Chinese officials] worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it. But they’re going to hold it off as long as possible,” the International Business Times reported.
Clinton’s forceful remarks came even as she is meeting with Chinese leaders in Washington for a two-day “Strategic and Economic Dialogue,” according to Bloomberg.
During the opening session yesterday Clinton said, “Like friends, we discuss those differences honestly and forthrightly,” even as she quoted reports that independent-minded artists, journalists and bloggers in China have either been arrested or “disappeared,” Bloomberg reported.
Clinton said in her opening remarks, “We know over the long arch of history that societies that work toward respecting human rights are going to be more prosperous, stable, and successful. That has certainly been proven time and time again, but most particularly in the last months,” the International Business Times reported.
Vice president Joe Biden echoed Clinton’s remarks, saying that the U.S. will continue to criticize China’s human rights record, even if Chinese authorities view this as an encroachment into what they consider to be a domestic matter, Bloomberg said.
Biden said in his speech, “I know and I understand that disagreement, when we voice it, is upsetting or rankles.” Still, he said the U.S. takes a strong stand in the protection of human rights “to promote long-term stability and prosperity of any society,” Bloomberg reported.
Executive vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun told Washington reporters that China made “remarkable progress” since the Communist state’s inception in 1949. “I want to stress that the Chinese government is committed to protecting and upholding human rights and we will ensure and protect people’s freedom of religious faith in accordance with the law,” International Business Times reported.
State councilor Dai Bingguo echoed this, saying the U.S. needs first-hand knowledge to see the “enormous progress” and to “get to know the real China,” Bloomberg reported.
In light of China’s dynamic economy, the U.S. sees the country as an important trading partner and remains committed to preserving strong ties that the two countries share, International Business Times said.
At the same time, an anonymous senior U.S. official told Bloomberg that human rights continues to be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and undisclosed discussions on the subject were forthright and clear.
Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama met with China’s vice premier Wang Qishan in the White House. Obama spoke of U.S. support for “universal rights of expression and worship,” and expressed concern about human rights in China, Bloomberg said.
Wang, in a television program said he did not believe China would experience an uprising similar to the kind that is happening in different countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Bloomberg said.
Last February, several rallies were staged in different cities in China that were organized online and inspired by the “Arab Spring,” protesting government abuse of power and corruption by authorities.