by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2012
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that Beijing will take concrete steps to improve human rights as he admitted "there is always room for improvement."
Xi said that in his talks in Washington with President Barack Obama, he "stressed China has made tremendous and well-recognized achievements in the field of human rights over the past 30-plus years since reform and opening up.
"Of course there is always room for improvement when it comes to human rights," Xi added during a lunch at the State Department with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Vice President Joe Biden.
"Given China's huge population, considerable regional diversity and uneven development, we are still faced with many challenges improving people's livelihood and advancing human rights," Xi said.
"The Chinese government will always put peoples' interests first and take seriously people's aspirations and demands," said the man who is likely to become China's next president.
"We will, in light of China's national conditions, continue to take concrete and effective policies and measures to promote social fairness, justice and harmony and push forward China's course of human rights," he said.
He said China is "ready to conduct candid and constructive dialogue and exchanges on human rights with the United States and other countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect."
Chinese President Hu Jintao made similar remarks in Washington last year, but both leaders stressed the need to take "national" conditions into account, and Hu acknowledged China does not share Western ideas about human rights.
During his talks with Xi, Obama brought up concerns about human rights, saying Washington would "continue to emphasize what we believe is the importance of realizing the aspirations and rights of all people."
Human rights groups say that China has also stepped up curbs on dissent, with dozens of government critics detained since last year. Democracy activist Zhu Yufu was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison, his wife said.
Residents say that China has imposed virtual martial law in Tibetan areas, amid a wave of self-immolations to protest Beijing's rule, and has kept tight control of the Uighur minority concentrated in northwestern Xinjiang.
Standing next to Xi during the lunch, Biden said: "We see our advocacy for human rights as a fundamental aspect of our foreign policy, and we believe a key to the prosperity and stability of all societies."
Biden added: "We have been clear about our concern over the areas in which, from our perspective, conditions in China have deteriorated and about the plight of several very prominent individuals. We appreciate your response."
China News from SinoDaily.com
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Police chief flies to Beijing amid defection rumours
Beijing (AFP) Feb 11, 2012
A former Chinese police chief whose visit to a US consulate sparked rumours he was trying to defect flew to Beijing with a top state security officer after meeting American officials in southwest China. Wang Lijun, who has close links to a high-profile contender to join China's top decision-making body, flew first class from Chengdu to Beijing on February 8, according to a travel website aut ... read more
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