Thursday, 12 February 2009


UN: China on track for human rights

(Morning Star, Thursday 12 February 2009)

CHINA claimed victory on Thursday after a UN panel examined its human rights record and found it to be on track despite complaints over Beijing's use of labour camps.

Western countries had expected the 47-member Human Rights Council to slam China over allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners.

But the panel acknowledged China's ongoing efforts to boost human rights and it recommended that Beijing share its positive experience in promoting poverty reduction and human rights with other developing countries.

Valery Loshchinin, the Russian ambassador to the UN office in Geneva, applauded China's "big leap forward" in human rights protection, particularly by improving the social and economic conditions of ordinary people.

A representative from Pakistan described China's achievements as "unprecedented" and the representative from Gabon said that the review had enabled China "to show its progress."

Commenting on the UN panel's report, which was published on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu noted that most countries had endorsed China's human rights record.

"A majority of countries spoke highly of China's human rights policies and achievements and support China continuing along this path in line with its national conditions," Ms Jiang said.

But Britain, Mexico and Germany called on China to end torture and the sentencing of people to labour camps without trial, to abolish the death penalty, to guarantee freedom of religion and to respect ethnic minorities.

Ms Jiang accused them of attempting "to politicise the review" by making accusations that had been "rebuked by most countries."

Cuba also lambasted the "self-appointed human rights defenders" for "attacking the interests of the state and the people of China," while Sri Lanka rejected "malignant criticisms by those who tore China into little pieces in the period of colonialism" and noted that China had achieved independence and self-determination for its people.

Pakistan blamed the clashes during last year's anti-government protests in Tibet on criminals who had "disturbing links to external perpetrators with ulterior motives."

But Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of activists within China and overseas, said in a statement that it was "distressed by China's dismissive attitude towards critical comments by some UN member states and the general unwillingness of most member states to confront the human rights record of the Chinese government."

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