UN chief says he pursued human rights in China

Ban Ki-moon rejects complaints that he failed to raise China`s rights record.

New York: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon defended his record on pursuing human rights in China, rejecting complaints that he failed to raise China`s rights record or its imprisoned Nobel peace laureate in a meeting with President Hu Jintao.

The UN chief told reporters that during his recent Asia trip he spoke about human rights everywhere including China.

He said he raised the issue of human rights publicly in Nanjing, Shanghai and Beijing and in private talks with Chinese leaders, whom he didn`t name. He explained that sometimes diplomacy has to be conducted "in confidence”.

"At Nanjing University, I stressed that countries operate best where they do so based on shared values including international agreements on human rights," Ban said. "In Shanghai, I again emphasized the importance of academic freedom, and in Beijing ... I addressed a group of future leaders of China about (the) Universal Declaration of Human Rights and emphasised the need to respect the right to freedom of expression and, importantly, to protect human rights defenders."

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that human rights did not come up in Ban`s meeting on Monday with Hu because there were many other issues to discuss. Nesirky added that the world body`s previous statement on Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo which did not call for his release but said Ban has long advocated for improvement on human rights still stands.

Liu, a 54-year-old literary critic, is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion imposed in December after he co-authored a bold appeal known as Charter 08 calling for reforms to China`s single-party communist political system.


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