Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 5 News List

China broke rights promises, delayed UN inspections: US

AP , WASHINGTON

The US accused China of backsliding on human rights promises that led US officials to drop a resolution criticizing Beijing's record at a UN gathering.

Last December, China pledged during talks with the US to allow UN investigators to look into allegations that China jails people without due process, tolerates prison torture and restricts religious freedoms.

"Those visits have not yet taken place," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday.

Beijing also said it would permit a US commission on religious freedom to visit the country, but that trip was postponed this month after China insisted that the group stay out of Hong Kong, site of mass anti-government protests.

"We've made clear during the course of the year that there's been backsliding," Boucher said. "And unfortunately, that pattern has continued ... We've been disappointed."

Boucher also noted a series of "troubling incidents," such as a lack of due process for a Tibetan who was executed, the arrests of a number of democracy activists and harsh sentences for Internet labor protests.

"We're going to keep pushing for more progress," Boucher said.

While no talks with China are scheduled at this point, Boucher said, "we can certainly look to see ... the progress that we've been promised."

Citing limited but significant progress by Beijing, the US decided not to seek a resolution criticizing China at the annual meeting in April of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

US officials have introduced such a resolution almost every year since China cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

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