China has hit out at US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s harsh criticism of its human rights record as “inappropriate.”
In an interview published earlier this week that focused largely on recent turmoil in the Arab world, Clinton denounced China’s clampdown on dissent as a “fool’s errand,” saying Beijing was trying to stop the course of history.
The remarks were some of the strongest by a senior US official since China launched a major crackdown earlier this year and came as Clinton was meeting with senior leaders from Beijing as part of the two nations’ annual dialogue.
“It is inappropriate for anyone to put China on a par with countries in Western Asia and North Africa facing turmoil,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said in a statement issued in direct response to Clinton’s comments.
In the interview with The Atlantic magazine, Clinton said of Chinese officials: “They’re worried and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand.”
“They cannot do it, but they’re going to hold it off as long as possible,” she added.
China, apparently spooked by the wave of pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world, has rounded up dozens of lawyers, writers, artists and other perceived critics in recent months.
Clinton and US President Barack Obama separately raised concerns about human rights with Chinese delegates during a two-day wide-ranging annual dialogue between the two sides held in Washington this week.
China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper said in an editorial yesterday that Clinton’s comments were “undignified.”
“As it adopts a different social system, China naturally fails to meet the human rights standards set by the West,” it said.
“The West’s indoctrination of human rights has had some effects on some people, who echo the West’s vilification of the nation’s human rights record, but they are the minority and cannot represent the mainstream,” it added.
“These people’s voices could be heard in recent years due to the openness and diversification of Chinese society, but that does not mean Western ideology can be accepted by the majority of Chinese people,” it said.