Washington: Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit, the US has pressed hard on human rights issues including religious freedom and deteriorating situation in Tibet Autonomous Region, prompting China to fight back by referring increasing racial attacks in America.
During a day-long US-China dialogue on human rights, the US pressed China on a number of human rights issues including the recent crackdown on lawyers and increasing tension in the Tibetan areas, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski said yesterday.
He said these issues will feature very prominently in Xi's meeting with President Barack Obama in September.
"The dialogue gave us a chance to convey in advance of that visit the growing sense of alarm in the US about human rights developments in China and to stress the importance of making specific improvements in keeping with China's own laws and international commitments," Malinowski said.
"The recent deterioration of the human rights situation and the Chinese Government's increasing emphasis in its rhetoric and its laws on fighting what it calls, "cultural infiltration and Western influence" raises serious questions whether China remains on a long-term path towards greater openness and integration with the world or has begun to turn inward," he said.
This trend harms the interests of the Chinese people most of all given China's importance and influence is of great concern to the international community as a whole, he said.
Malinowski acknowledged that the Chinese delegation raised the issue of recent police attacks on certain sections of the society in the US.
"They did raise a couple of issues, although I have to say that the vast majority of the conversation concerned events in China. They raised, for example, the recent incidents of police violence.
"The Ferguson case was raised briefly and I actually thought this was quite interesting because they said 'We all saw that on TV' and my response, without in any way diminishing the seriousness of the problem that we are facing in the US, was, 'Exactly, you saw it on TV because the Chinese state media was able to be in Ferguson and to cover those events nonstop from start to finish," Malinowski said.
"The international media does not have that kind of access in China when there is violence, in Tibet or Xinjiang or in other parts of the country. Nor, I would add, did the US Government arrest the lawyers of Michael Brown or people who took video footage of the police violence," he said.
Malinowski said, "The recent case in which the large
number of lawyers were arrested actually began in China with a case of alleged police violence in which a man was killed by the police. A person videotaping that incident was arrested. That person's lawyer was then arrested. And then 159 other lawyers and activists signed a petition on behalf of the lawyer, and they were all arrested," .
"So I ask the Chinese side to imagine if we handled problems that way here what the reaction would be. So absolutely legitimate to raise concerns about our challenges in the US, but our response is essentially that we have institutions within the US that enable people with grievances to seek redress through the law, through the media, through open debate.
"And it is the weakness of those institutions in China that creates the problems that we spent the vast majority of time in the dialogue discussing," Malinowski added.