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The BBC's Claire Doole in Geneva
"A critical resolution"
 real 28k

The BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Beijing
"It accused the US of using an evil cult as its weapon"
 real 28k

Judith Arenas, Amnesty International
"Human Rights Commission made its decision on commercial grounds"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
China escapes UN censure
Falun Gong arrest
The US criticised Beijing's crackdown on Falun Gong
The United Nation's top human rights body has agreed not to debate a resolution condemning China for alleged human rights abuses.

The UN Commission on Human Rights cancelled the US-sponsored resolution after a "no-action" motion was passed.

The Chinese ambassador to the UN accused the US of engaging in an "anti-China political farce" by seeking a formal criticism of Beijing's record.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said such a resolution had been defeated nine times since 1990, adding that: "The move can lead nowhere but self-isolation and self-defeat of the United States."

The credibility of the UN commission has been seriously damaged by its unwillingness to censure China

Human Rights Watch

The BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Beijing says China's bitter attacks are fuelled by suspicions that Nato's action against Yugoslavia set a precedent for intervention in countries deemed to have violated human rights.

The no-action motion was passed by a vote of 22-18 with 12 abstentions.

Human Rights Watch said the decision "represents a sorry failure of political will".

"The credibility of the UN commission has been seriously damaged by its unwillingness to censure China or even to discuss its rights performance," the New York-based group said in a statement.

A spokesman for Human Rights in China said it was disappointed that the EU had failed to back the resolution more strongly.

'Evil cult'

Washington had argued that Beijing's respect for civil liberties had deteriorated over the past year.

It pointed to the jailing of dissidents trying to form an opposition party, the banning of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and restrictions on Tibetans.

Falun Gong protest
Protests outside the Chinese news agency in Hong Kong
Mr Qiao angrily rebuffed US criticisms of its crackdown on Falun Gong, saying the movement was an "evil cult".

Beijing earlier said that the movement had plotted to overthrow the government and caused more than 1,400 deaths by urging its followers not to use medicine.

Practitioners say the movement, based on Qigong breathing exercises and Buddhist meditation, is a peaceful form of spiritual cultivation.

Several leading members have been jailed for up to 18 years; human rights groups say hundreds more have been sent without trial for labour re-education.

China has promised to use only friendly persuasion to urge ordinary Falun Gong practitioners, many of them elderly or middle aged, to give up the practice.

It has admitted that several practitioners have died in police custody, but says their deaths resulted from natural causes or suicide.

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See also:

12 Apr 00 | UK Politics
US attacks UK China policy
21 Nov 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
China's perplexing crackdown
05 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong arrests in Tiananmen Square
29 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sect members held over Mao protest
12 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong leader gets 12 years
22 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
China bans sect
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