China hits out at Hillary over rights criticism

Beijing says any attempts to direct Middle East turmoil to China will fail.

Last Updated: May 14, 2011, 11:38 AM IST

Beijing: China has hit out at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s harsh criticism of its human rights record as "inappropriate".

Hillary, in an interview published earlier this week which focused largely on recent turmoil in the Arab world, denounced China`s clampdown on dissent as a "fool`s errand," saying Beijing was trying to stop the course of history.

The remarks were some of the strongest by a senior US official since China launched a major crackdown earlier this year and came as Hillary was meeting with senior leaders from Beijing as part of the two nations` annual dialogue.

"It is inappropriate for anyone to put China on a par with countries in Western Asia and North Africa facing turmoil," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement issued in direct response to Hillary`s comments.

"Any attempts to steer the turmoil in the Middle East towards China and try and change the development path independently chosen by the Chinese people are futile," she added late Friday.

In the interview with The Atlantic magazine, Hillary said of Chinese officials: "They`re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool`s errand."

"They cannot do it. But they`re going to hold it off as long as possible," she added.

China, apparently spooked by the wave of pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world, has rounded up dozens of lawyers, writers, artists and other perceived critics in recent months.

Hillary and US President Barack Obama separately raised concerns about human rights with Chinese delegates during a two-day wide-ranging annual dialogue between the two sides held in Washington this week.

China`s state-owned Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Saturday that Hillary`s comments were "undignified”.

"As it adopts a different social system, China naturally fails to meet the human rights standards set by the West," it said.

"The West`s indoctrination of human rights has had some effects on some people, who echo the West`s vilification of the nation`s human rights record. But they are the minority and cannot represent the mainstream," it added.

"These people`s voices could be heard in recent years due to the openness and diversification of Chinese society. But that does not mean Western ideology can be accepted by the majority of Chinese people."

Bureau Report