BEIJING: China accused the United States on Friday of being “haunted by spreading guns” and racial discrimination, in its annual tit-for-tat rebuttal to U.S. criticism of China’s human rights record.
In a lengthy report carried by the official Xinhua news agency, China’s State Council Information Office said the United States “violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more ‘red cards’ in the international human rights field”.
“The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns and frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens’ civil rights,” the report said.
The China section of the annual U.S. State Department report on human rights conditions globally, released on Thursday, said that “repression and coercion were routine” against activists, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive cases.
Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989, when the U.S. imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
While senior leaders periodically promise China’s citizens democracy and human rights, the last two years under President Xi Jinping’s administration have been marked by a sweeping crackdown on dissidents and activists.
China has long rejected criticism of its rights’ record, saying providing food, clothing, housing and economic growth are far more relevant for developing countries, pointing to its success at lifting millions out of poverty.
The State Department report came in the same week that the United States and China held three days of high-level talks in Washington.
The Chinese report, which was mostly compiled from U.S. media articles, said “racial discrimination has been a chronic problem in the U.S. human rights record”, adding that the United States suppressed the voting rights of minorities.
It cited a USA Today report that said preliminary exit polls showed that voters of African origins accounted for 12 percent in the 2014 midterm election, down from 13 percent in the 2012 presidential election.
“In 2014, multiple cases of arbitrary police killing of African-Americans have sparked huge waves of protests, casting doubts on the racial ‘equality’ in the U.S. and giving rise to racial hatred factors,” the report said.
The report also criticized the United States for conducting surveillance on world leaders and civilians and for allowing a few interest groups to influence the government’s decision-making.