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China rejects U.S. attack on human rights

  • Story Highlights
  • China's FM rejects U.S. attack on human rights record, says "double standards."
  • Yang Jiechi says China ready "for dialogue with the United States"
  • U.S. State Dept. report comes five months before the Beijing Olympics
  • Report emphasized forced relocations, human rights abuses, control of Internet
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China's foreign minister Wednesday rejected criticism of its human rights record, accusing the United States of "clinging to a Cold War mentality" and "practicing double standards."

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Workers at the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Fast Railway, a key project associated with the Beijing Olympics.

Yang Jiechi was responding to questions about a State Department report released a day earlier that characterized China's human rights record as one of the most repressive in the world.

The report was released five months before the Summer Olympic Games kickoff in Beijing.

Although he chided the United States and other critics of its human rights record as "making confrontation," Yang stressed that China is "ready for dialogue with the United States, as long as it is done in an environment of respect and fairness."

Despite rapid economic growth and social change in China, the report said the "authoritarian" Chinese government "continues to deny their citizens basic human rights and fundamental freedoms."

It also said there was an increase in forced relocations in Beijing, with people being thrown out of their homes to make way for Olympic projects.

"China's overall human rights record remained poor in 2007," it stated, citing tightening controls over religious freedom in Tibet and the Uyghur population.

China announced Sunday that militants in Xinjiang's Uyghur Autonomous Region had planned to carry out two terror attacks, including one targeting the Olympics set to begin on August 8. China said it successfully thwarted both attacks.

The autonomous region is home to about 19 million people, most of whom are Muslims and other minorities. Many of them oppose Beijing's rule.

The State Department report also said China has increased its efforts to "control and censor the Internet, and the government tightened restrictions on freedom of speech and the domestic press" and bloggers.

It cited a 20 percent increase over 2006 in convictions of citizens under what it called China's overly broad state security law that is often used to silence government critics.

"The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under law," the report said.

"Individuals and groups, especially those deemed politically sensitive by the government, continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, their freedom to practice religion, and their freedom to travel."

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The report, issued annually, surveys the human rights record of more than 190 countries around the world.

In rolling out the report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "No corner of the Earth is permanently condemned to tyranny. Change may take time, but change will come." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott in Washington and Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime FlorCruz contributed to this report

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