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China calls Clinton's rights call 'interference'

US Secretary of State had voiced alarm over Beijing's treatment of ethnic Tibetans. -AFP

Fri, Nov 11, 2011

BEIJING - Beijing on Friday accused Hillary Clinton of interfering in its affairs after the US secretary of state expressed concern over China's human rights record.

Clinton voiced alarm Thursday over Beijing's treatment of ethnic Tibetans and of blind lawyer turned human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who is being held under house arrest.

"We oppose foreign interference into China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told journalists at a briefing Friday where he was asked to respond to Clinton's remarks.

"The Chinese government protects the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizens."

Chen, a self-trained lawyer who has been blind since childhood, spent four years in prison after documenting late-term abortions and forced sterilisations under Beijing's one-child policy.

He was released last year, but rights campaigners say he and his wife were severely beaten earlier this year in apparent retaliation for the release of a video smuggled out of their home in which Chen railed about his house arrest.

Clinton, in Honolulu for an Asia-Pacific summit, said the United States welcomed a "thriving China" but wanted to ensure that the fast-growing region developed standards on openness and basic freedoms.

"When we see reports of lawyers, artists and others who are detained or 'disappeared,' the United States speaks up both publicly and privately," Clinton said.

She said the United States was "alarmed" by reports of monks and nuns in ethnically Tibetan parts of China setting themselves alight to protest against what they say is religious repression.

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