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The BBC's Flora Botsford reports
"International criticism of its human rights record has continued"
 real 28k

Claire Doole in Geneva
"Mrs Albright's presence in Geneva underlines US determination to get China publicly rebuked by the UN"
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 22:47 GMT
China fury over human rights
Falun Gong movement
US is concerned over treatment of Falun Gong
China has reacted angrily to moves by the United States to condemn its human rights record at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The Chinese ambassador to the UN Geneva headquarters , Qiao Zonghuai, said American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, had made groundless and slanderous charges against China.

Earlier Mrs Albright said that China's human rights record had markedly deteriorated over the past year, making reference to the detention of thousands of members of the spiritual movement, Falun Gong.

Qiao Zonghuai:
Qiao Zonghuai: Groundless attack
But Mr Qiao said the US had succumbed to domestic political pressure to criticise China and was guilty of double standards by suppressing cults at home, while criticising China's treatment of a movement it sees as an evil cult.

The Chinese authorities have escaped censure on human rights at the annual UN meeting since their forcible suppression of the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Earliuer, Mrs Albright said the international community owed it to the Chinese people not to "shy away from the whole truth".

Thousands of members of the Falun Gong movement were detained. Authorities continued to limit the abilities of Christians, Muslims and Buddhists.

Madeleine Albright
She added that the credibility of the commission itself was also at stake if it did not act.

Mrs Albright, who travelled from South Asia for a brief appearance before the 53-nation commission, also said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "richly merits condemnation" after a decade of Balkan wars.

The US is going to introduce a resolution on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly Serbia, to the commission, according to a senior US official.

Mrs Albright also expressed concern about human rights in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Burma.

Widespread arrests

She called for endorsement of a resolution on Cuba, to be tabled by the Czech Republic and Poland.

Referring to Russia's war against Chechen rebels, she said allegations of Russian violations - including extra-judicial killings - must be addressed urgently.

But China was the focus of her address, and three of the most senior members of Beijing's delegation left before the secretary of state spoke and returned when she had finished.

Falun Gong

Mrs Albright - the highest-ranking US official to address the forum in 10 years - said over the past year in China, there had been widespread arrests of those seeking to exercise their right to peaceful political expression.

The secretary of state also expressed concern for minority groups such as the Tibetans and Uighurs, which she said were barred from fully exercising their cultural and linguistic heritage.

The BBC's correspondent in Geneva says the presence of Mrs Albright underlines the determination by the US to get China publicly rebuked by the UN.

Our correspondent says the US believes it can succeed in getting a critical resolution passed this year because there are less China supporters on the commission than previous years.

The latest US resolution against China is expected to be presented next month but is being circulated among member states first to garner support.

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See also:

29 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sect members held over Mao protest
26 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
US warns China over Falun Gong trials
22 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
China bans sect
21 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
EU raps China on human rights
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