US `pleased` with China`s release of dissident

The United States however voiced deep concern over China`s broader crackdown on critics.

Washington: The United States on Friday welcomed the release from prison of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei but voiced deep concern over China`s broader crackdown on critics.

"We are very pleased with the release of Ai Weiwei, and we welcome that step," Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told reporters.

"However, the United States continues to be deeply concerned by the trend of forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions and convictions of public interest lawyers, writers, artists, intellectuals and activists in China for exercising their internationally recognised human rights," he added.

He said he intended to raise these issues when he holds talks on Saturday with his Chinese counterparts in Honolulu.

Ai was freed late Wednesday because of his "good attitude" in confessing to tax evasion, his willingness to repay taxes he owes, and on medical grounds, the government said.

His detention in April during a major government crackdown on activists launched in February sparked criticism led by rights groups and Western governments.

Bureau Report

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