China slams US human rights record in annual report

BEIJING - China on Friday slammed the US for a "terrible human rights record", denouncing it for police brutality and global surveillance a day after Washington criticised Beijing's own performance.

In a report sourced mainly from US media, China said the US was "haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrence of violent crimes, the excessive use of force by police".

It said that US intelligence had used "indiscriminate" torture against terrorist suspects, while "violating human rights in other countries" with drone strikes and mass surveillance programmes.

The document is released each year by China the day after the US State Department issues its annual global human rights report. Beijing does not release rights reports on other countries.

Unlike China, the US is a multiparty democracy but the report declared: "Money is a deciding factor in the US politics, and the US citizens' political rights were not properly protected." The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly imprisoned those who openly challenge its right to rule or have protested publicly.

Its state-run media said in December that torture by Chinese police to extract confessions is "not rare", in an unusual admission.

Friday's document, released by China's State Council, or cabinet, largely cited US domestic media websites, including the New York Times, which is blocked by Beijing as part of its Internet censorship regime.

China said the US justice system suffered from "serious racial bias", highlighting police killings of several unarmed black men, which sparked protests over the past year.

The US has "grim problems of racial discrimination, and institutional discrimination against ethnic minorities continued", it added.

Washington's own report on Thursday said that in China "repression and coercion were routine, particularly against organisations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy".

It also noted Beijing's continued repression of ethnic Uighurs and Tibetans.

The report criticised semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

"The most important human rights problems reported were the limited ability of citizens to participate in and change their government through the right to vote in free and fair elections," it said of the city.

Hong Kong lawmakers last week rejected a Beijing-backed electoral reform package which was derided as "fake democracy" during mass protests in 2014, as it required candidates for the city's next leader be vetted by a loyalist committee.

The US report also highlighted limitations on press freedom and violence against the media in Hong Kong, after attacks on some leading journalists and executives.

The city's government hit back Friday saying foreign powers "should not interfere" in its constitutional development and added "great importance" was given to freedom of speech.

Human rights are a long-standing source of tensions between China and the US, which imposed sanctions on Beijing after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that left hundreds, by some estimates more than 1,000, dead.

China often says that its rapid economic development in recent decades has led to a greater respect for human rights, and that other countries are not entitled to criticise its record.

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