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The US Secretary of State
"We see greater prospects for progress by pursuing our interests through our ties with China that by cutting those ties"
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The BBC's Richard Lister reports
"Many in Congress are questioning the effectiveness of seven years oof engagement""
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Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 01:05 GMT
US: China's human rights deteriorating

Protesters being arrested
Falun Gong members being detained by the police near Tiananmen Square


The United States says China's human rights record deteriorated significantly last year as the Beijing government intensified efforts to suppress dissent.

The conclusion was part of the US State Department's annual report on human rights around the world, the longest and most comprehensive the department has issued.


The human rights situation in China will not be transformed overnight, and we will continue to speak out on behalf of those in China who are systematically denied freedom

Secretary of State
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who presented the report, insisted that US engagement with China was the best way to bring about positive change.

The State Department report says that by the end of last year, almost all of the key leaders of the China Democracy Party were serving long prison sentences or being held without trial, and it says only a handful of dissidents remained active.

There were also fewer early releases of imprisoned dissidents than in previous years, and the report notes the detention of tens of thousands of followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

No change in policy

"With respect to both human rights and trade, our policy towards China is the same: to engage on principle, to encourage China to participate in the international system, and to press China to observe international rules," Mrs Albright said.

Medelein Albright Albright: Continued engagement with China
"The human rights situation in China will not be transformed overnight, and we will continue to speak out on behalf of those in China who are systematically denied basic political and religious freedom," Mrs Albright said.

"We see greater prospects for progress by pursuing our interests through our ties with China than by cutting those ties," she added.

BBC Washington correspondent Richard Lister says after seven years of engagement with China, many in the US Congress are questioning the effectiveness of the policy and the report will do little to encourage them to approve the World Trade Organisation deal signed last year.

The international view

The State Department report noted that elections in Indonesia and Nigeria meant that more people lived under democratic rule than last year.

At the end of 1999, the world had 120 democracies, three more than at the end of 1998 and the highest number ever, it said, quoting the human rights group Freedom House.

The report said that the multi-national intervention in Kosovo last year showed that the international community could and would move against profound human rights violations.

Also noted were the release of dissidents in Indonesia, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Bhutan and Russia.

The introduction of the report drew attention to violations of human rights in North Korea, Burma, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia and Sri Lanka.

Along with China, Yugoslavia, Cuba and Russia - for its campaign in Chechnya - came in for strong criticism.

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See also:
25 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Clinton pushes China trade accord
29 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Sect members held over Mao protest
27 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
China-US: A turbulent year
15 Nov 99 |  The Economy
WTO hails China deal
21 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
EU raps China on human rights

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