U.S. Raises Pressure on China Over Human Rights

2005-03-28
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WASHINGTON-The U.S. State Department sharply criticized China's human rights record in a new report Monday, less than two weeks after scrapping plans to censure China at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

China has amended its constitution to protect human rights and has adopted legal reforms for monitoring the government. But the report said "it is unclear how or to what extent the constitutional amendment and other legal reforms will be enforced."

The U.S. administration shelved a resolution criticizing China that had been prepared for an international human rights conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Officials said they had worked out a deal a few days earlier with China on a half-dozen reforms.

These included China's release of Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer, decision to extend an invitation to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, clarification of parents' rights to provide religious education to their children, open an International Red Cross office in Beijing, and revise rules for parole of "state security prisoners," added Michael Kozak, acting assistant secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

"One year, the judgment may be we get more by taking a resolution to Geneva. Another year, the judgment may be we get more by not doing that in return for some specific steps. But we have to work all these elements together. It's not that one element constitutes a pro- or anti-democratic policy," he told reporters.

In 2004, the State Department's bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor spent U.S. $13.5 million "for programs inside China working with people who are trying to work towards democratic government and respect for human rights. For this current fiscal year, we've got $19 million programmed," Kozak said.

Publicly, the Bush administration has criticized China consistently for mistreating its people. The administration is also trying to persuade the European allies not to lift an embargo on weapons sales to China.

The United States, meanwhile, has come under criticism for abuses committed against terror suspects at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, and has transferred some prisoners and released others.

The report, which focused on U.S. efforts to improve human rights in 98 nations, was issued by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"The survival of liberty in our land is dependent on the growth of liberty in other lands," Rice said in releasing the report, titled "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy."

"Freedom, democracy, and human rights are not American principles or Western values. These ideals are shared by all people. They are the non-negotiable demands of human dignity," she said.

Original reporting in English by RFA's Richard Finney in Washington. Produced for broadcast by RFA's language services. Produced for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Read original reporting in Mandarin

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CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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