Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 1 News List

China snorts at Western concern for human rights

AFP , BEIJING

China yesterday complained about Western hypocrisy on human-rights issues, including calls for greater democracy in Hong Kong and religious freedom in Tibet.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) said after a frank exchange on human rights with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer that China did not need lessons from the West on Hong Kong.

"On this question, we are unhappy with our Western friends," Li told reporters. "Western politicians were silent when, under the British colonial leadership, our compatriots were unable to enjoy democratic rights. They forget to mention that."

He said China had a sovereign right to determine the legal privileges of the citizens of Hong Kong.

"It is important that Hong Kong is a part of China. It fills us with great joy that the population of Hong Kong can enjoy the rights of the fatherland according to the law," he said.

Fischer did not mention Hong Kong at a joint press conference with Li but noted German concern about religious and political freedom in Tibet.

Li retorted that the Dalai Lama was engaged in "subversive" activity that threatened to undermine Chinese sovereignty in Tibet.

An estimated 500,000 pro-democracy demonstrators took to Hong Kong's streets on July 1 protesting against a decision in April by China's parliament to rule out direct elections for Hong Kong's leaders and legislature by 2007 and 2008.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) this week rejected calls for greater representation, saying the overall interests of China were more important than Hong Kong people's wish for a rapid transition to full democracy.

On Tibet, China on Tuesday made clear to the Dalai Lama that there was no chance of negotiations for his return home until he publicly declared that both Tibet and Taiwan are part of China.

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