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China's Xi Jinping speaks at U.N. General Assembly
02:57 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Chinese state mouthpiece called Clinton a "rabble rouser" who resorted to "ignominious shenanigans"

Clinton tweeted that Xi was "shameless" for keeping five prominent Chinese feminist activists remain under surveillance while pledging to support women's rights

He spoke at a U.N. summit over the weekend pledging $10 million to promote gender equality

CNN  — 

China has lashed out at Hillary Clinton for her tweet criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s record on gender equality, accusing her of being a “rabble-rouser” intent on China-bashing to win election points.

The English edition of Global Times, a state-run media outlet, ran the editorial on Monday saying she had “resorted to these ignominious shenanigans” and likened her to another 2016 candidate, Donald Trump.

It added: “Hillary was a lawyer, the former hostess of the White House, and also a senior leader in the government. It is a pity that even the former first lady has also thrown away her decency and reputation only to gain a leg up in the election.”

U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for co-hosting a summit on women’s rights with the United Nations whilst punishing several prominent women’s rights activists in his own country.

“Xi hosting a meeting on women’s rights at the U.N. while persecuting feminists? Shameless,” Clinton tweeted Sunday.

Clinton was referring to the cases of five Chinese women activists – Wei Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Li Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan – who were detained in March for campaigning against sexual harassment.

Although China released them on bail 37 days later, their ordeal continues. The five women are subject to surveillance for a year, their activities restricted, and police can call them in for questioning at any time.

“This shouldn’t be a moment of celebration,” Wu’s lawyer Liang Xiaojun told CNN at the time. “The arbitrary detention and release of these women really shows the backwardness of China’s legal system.”

OPINION: China’s chilling message to women

‘Half the sky’

At the U.N. summit meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to “reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and women’s development.” It marked the 20th anniversary of the historic Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995.

Xi invoked a famous line from Mao Zedong that “women hold up half the sky” and pledged $10 million to the U.N. agency for women.

“As the Chinese people pursue a happy life, every Chinese woman has the opportunities to excel in life and make their dream come true. China will do more to enhance gender equality as its basic state policy, give play to women’s important role as ‘half the sky’ and support them in realizing their own dreams and aspiration in both career and life,” Xi said.

To emphasize China’s rising position on the world stage, Xi also promised to help build schooling and health projects for women and girls in developing countries. In programs jointly funded by China and the U.N., China will host women from other parts of the developing world to build skills.

“The Chinese women, through their own development, will also play a greater part in global women’s movement and make greater contributions to gender equality in the world,” Xi said.

Tweet controversy

According to Chinese media, Li Junhua, Director-General of the Department of International Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, remarked on Sunday that the feminists “were arrested not because they were advancing women’s rights but because they broke the law.”

China Daily quoted him saying that “Chinese women are best judges of their rights” and “some individuals or entities take groundless views, or show a lack of understanding” in what appeared to be a jab at Clinton’s comment.