US society is plagued by violent crime, poverty, race and gender discrimination and a host of other ills, Beijing said in a scathing rebuttal of a US report criticising China’s human rights record.
The report released late Sunday by China’s government also lamented the bloodshed of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reports of waterboarding and other harsh treatment of US enemy combatants, and said the American political system was in thrall to moneyed interests.
“The United States has turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentions it,” said the report, which is issued each year to rebut an annual US State Department report on human rights around the world.
The US report released Friday levelled harsh criticism at China over a severe crackdown on government critics in recent months, widely believed aimed at heading off any political uprisings similar to those that have rocked the Arab world.
The State Department report said China’s human rights record is on a “negative trend” with growing restrictions on freedom of speech and “severe repression” in its restive Tibet and Xinjiang regions.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday the United States was “deeply concerned” about China’s crackdown, saying “dozens” of rights lawyers, writers, intellectuals and activists had been “arbitrarily detained and arrested”.
She highlighted the case of Ai Weiwei, an outspoken artist who helped design the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games. He was detained on April 3 reportedly for unspecified “economic crimes”.
But as it does every year, the Chinese report sought to turn the tables, calling on “the United States to face up to its own human rights issues”.
A Chinese government spokesman said on Saturday the United States should “stop interfering” in other countries’ affairs via the rights issue.
The Chinese report painted a picture of a nightmarish US society where crime is rampant, police torture prevalent, and gun ownership out of control.
“In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights by the government is severe,” it said.
Curiously, it also took the United States to task for some of the same accusations China faces — and routinely rejects — alleging rampant miscarriages of justice by American courts, and excessive US “restrictions” on the Internet.
It also criticised the impact on civilians in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
Besides China’s ongoing crackdown on its critics, the US State Department report said perhaps tens of thousands of Chinese were involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals, while citizens faced tight restrictions on their rights to assemble, travel and practice their religions.
On Sunday, Beijing police arrested dozens of Christian worshippers belonging to a church that is not formally recognised by the government when they tried to pray outdoors, the rights group China Aid said.