Sun, Aug 16, 2015 - Page 5 News List

China open to rights talks: official

AP and Reuters, WASHINGTON

China is open to talking about human rights at a leadership summit next month with the US, but the two world powers should not let the issue “dominate” the discussions, a senior Chinese official said on Friday.

On Thursday, US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski said that China would have to improve its rights record to ensure the summit between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is a success.

Speaking after a two-day US-China dialogue on human rights in Washington, Li Junhua (李軍華), the senior Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official who headed the Chinese delegation, rebuffed the comments by Malinowski, who chaired the US side.

“I want to stress that China and the United States have consensus, but more differences in terms of human rights,” he told a news conference.

“If our American colleagues suggest that next month during the summit our leaders should discuss this issue, then we are open to this proposal,” Li told reporters.

“Yet, this issue should not dominate our discussion about our relationship,” Li said, according to an English translation of his comments in Chinese. “We should see a bigger picture: How do we seek more cooperation between each other while shelving these differences?”

Malinowski said after the first day of talks that there was “a growing sense of alarm” in Washington about human rights developments in China.

Li contended human rights conditions were improving daily in China and that the US should resist what he called “megaphone diplomacy.”

Asked about US objections to a draft law on the policing of non-governmental organizations, Li said that was due to a misunderstanding of the law’s provisions.

Washington says that unless the law is revised or shelved, it could jeopardize a large array of US engagements in China.

Li also said the US has exaggerated a crackdown on public interest lawyers.

The US Department of State says more than 250 people have been rounded up recently and some are still being held.

Li said about 20 lawyers have been detained and prosecuted for violating the law and it is now a matter for the courts.

“Actually there are only about 20 lawyers who have been detained and prosecuted because they violated our laws,” he said, adding that China had more than 270,000 lawyers.

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