BEIJING - China on Tuesday rejected a call by US Secretary of State John Kerry to release jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, saying human rights were a matter for its people only.
Kerry on Monday urged Chinese authorities to free Liu, five years after he was detained, and voiced concern at Beijing's clampdown on other activists including anti-corruption campaigner Xu Zhiyong.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Liu and Xu had "violated Chinese laws and they are to be punished by Chinese laws".
"I want to suggest that only the 1.3 billion Chinese people have a say on China's human rights," the spokesman added.
"We hope the US can bear in mind the overall interests of bilateral relations and do more things that are conducive to a bilateral relationship," he added.
Liu was detained in 2008 for spearheading Charter 08, a bold petition for greater protection of human rights in the Communist-ruled country.
He was handed an 11-year sentence for subversion in 2009 and won his Nobel prize a year later.
Kerry also raised the plight of Xu Zhiyong, who was held in July after criticising corruption and other sensitive topics.
The Secretary of State also called for a "constructive relationship" in his statement, adding "respect for international human rights is critical to China's growth, prosperity, and long-term stability".