BEIJING (Reuters) - China accused the United States on Friday of being “haunted by spreading guns” and racial discrimination, in its annual tit-for-tat rebuttal to U.S. criticism of China’s human rights record.
In a lengthy report carried by the official Xinhua news agency, the information office of the State Council, or cabinet, said the United States “violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more ‘red cards’ in the international human rights field”.
Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989, when the United States imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on human rights conditions in the world. In the China section of the report, it said repression and coercion were routine against activists, ethnic minorities and law firms that took on sensitive cases.
Senior leaders in China periodically promise citizens democracy and human rights, but the last two years under President Xi Jinping’s administration have been marked by a sweeping crackdown on dissidents and activists.
China has long rejected criticism of its rights’ record and has pointed to its success at lifting millions out of poverty.
The State Council report was “an equal and mutually beneficial way of reciprocating” the United States, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing.
The State Department report came in the same week that the United States and China held three days of high-level talks in Washington.
The Chinese report, which was mostly compiled from U.S. media articles, said “racial discrimination has been a chronic problem in the United States human rights record”, adding that the United States suppressed the voting rights of minorities.
“In 2014, multiple cases of arbitrary police killing of African-Americans have sparked huge waves of protests, casting doubts on the racial ‘equality’ in the United States and giving rise to racial hatred factors,” the report said.
The report also criticized the United States for conducting surveillance on world leaders and civilians and for allowing a few interest groups to influence the government’s decision-making.
Many Chinese Internet users disparaged the Chinese report, mocking the government for the accusations against the United States
“Our concern is when will China have human rights, rather than the state of U.S. human rights,” said a microblogger named Zhou Pidong.
Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ryan Woo