China chastises U.S. over human rights

China’s State Council, or cabinet, last week issued a scathing response to U.S. State Department charges that human rights in China deteriorated last year. Washington made the allegations in its annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” released on March 6.

“As in previous years,” begins the Chinese response, “the State Department pointed the finger at human rights conditions in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but avoided touching on the human rights situation in the United States.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a Beijing press conference that the cabinet’s report, titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2006,” is a “mirror” to “let the Americans see their own human rights condition.”

The report says, “The United States is the richest country in the world, but it lacks proper guarantees for people’s economic, social and cultural rights.” Citing U.S. source materials, it notes that some 37 million people, or one-eighth of the population, lives in poverty, with almost 16 million in “deep poverty.”

Homelessness and hunger are widespread, it says, as are a lack of legal protections for labor and a lack of health coverage or legally mandated sick or family leave.

The report says racism against African Americans and others is “still deep-seated in the United States,” and cites figures in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system to back up its claims.

The document details U.S. government violations of civil liberties of Americans since 9/11, including the monitoring of phone calls and internet use, the gathering of information on peace and environmental activists, and the prolonged jailing of people without charges.

Focusing on the U.S. record in Iraq, the Chinese report cites the deaths of over 655,000 Iraqis since the U.S. invaded four years ago and spotlights incidents like the U.S. massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha in 2005. It points to the widespread abuse of war prisoners in U.S.-run prisons at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as at Guantanamo.

The State Department claimed China had tightened restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, and was continuing to detain members of the banned Falun Gong cult and other political activists.

The Chinese report says the U.S. practice of “naming and shaming” of other countries is a relic of the Cold War, violates international law and flies in the face of international trends for peace and cooperation.

mbechtel @ pww.org