Beijing: The US and China are in "fundamental disagreement" over the case of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday after raising it with top officials.
The plight of the dissident, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison last December on subversion charges, is the latest issue to cloud Sino-US relations, already strained over the value of the yuan and a litany of trade disputes.
"The issue did come up. This is an area in which the United States and China have a fundamental disagreement," Holder told a press conference on the second day of a visit to China, during which he met with several top officials.
"President (Barack) Obama has made clear his position on the issue. We believe that China should respect the fundamental human rights of all of its citizens and that includes Liu."
Liu, 54, was jailed after co-authoring Charter 08, a bold manifesto calling for political reform in one-party Communist-ruled China.
The writer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 08 -- enraging Beijing, which says the move is tantamount to "encouraging crime" and is disrespectful to China`s justice system.
Liu`s wife has been under house arrest since his win and several of his supporters have either received official warnings or been taken into police custody, activists say.
Obama, the 2009 Nobel peace laureate, has led Western calls for Liu`s immediate release, saying the one-time university professor has "sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs".
Holder told reporters that Liu`s case was not the main thrust of his talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Justice Minister Wu Aiying, Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu and China`s top security chief Zhou Yongkang.
The US attorney general said the meetings focused on cooperation on law enforcement issues, intellectual property rights protection and the rule of law.
Copyright infringement has been a big issue in US-China trade ties. Beijing has repeatedly pledged to combat counterfeiting and launched various short-term crackdowns over the years but pirated goods remain freely available.
China`s State Council, or Cabinet, on Tuesday said the country would launch a six-month campaign against the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods, and Holder said he was "heartened" by the move but hoped it could last longer.
"Six months is a good testing time period to see if the measures that they`ve proposed are going to have a measurable impact, and if they do, my hope would be that they would be continued beyond that period," he said.