August 24, 2016 / 9:17 AM / 2 years ago

China denies restricting activities of U.N. rights envoy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China denied on Wednesday that the government had restricted the activities of a visiting United Nations-appointed human rights envoy.

Philip Alston, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, attends a news conference in Beijing, China, August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Philip Alston, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the Chinese government interfered with his work during a visit to China by blocking access to individuals whom he had hoped to meet.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China and the envoy had reached agreement on the schedule for the visit through consultations.

The suggestion that Alston was restricted in his activities “completely does not accord with the facts”, Lu told a daily news briefing.

He said Alston had praised China for its success at poverty alleviation and economic and social development.

“If these people are truly concerned about human rights and the social and economic development of developing countries, then we hope they can objectively view the facts and do some serious thinking,” Lu said.

“The development model they are trying to promote does not bring progress and human rights to the majority of people in many developing countries.”

Since taking office more than three years ago, President Xi Jinping has cracked down on dissent, reining in the media and civil society and detaining dozens of rights activists.

The government routinely rejects criticism of its human rights record, saying that people it jails are lawbreakers.

Special rapporteurs work on a voluntary basis, are not U.N. staff and do not get paid for their work.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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