Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

China hits out at UK human rights report

By Damian Grammaticas
BBC News, Beijing

Gao Zhisheng ( file photo)
China's spokesman said he would not discuss missing lawyer Gao Zhisheng

China has accused Britain of putting on a political show after a UK review of human rights around the world was highly critical of Beijing.

The report, issued on Wednesday, named China as one of some 20 nations where there was cause for serious concern about human rights.

Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea were also named as countries of concern.

The report said there had been a marked deterioration in some areas of human rights in China.

China's response was blunt. Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the fact that all the nations singled out were developing countries showed the report was "simply a political show".

He asked why Britain did not talk about itself and other Western nations which, he said, had violated human rights.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had released the report immediately after visiting China.

In Beijing he had raised the case of Gao Zhisheng, one of China's most prominent human rights lawyers, who was taken away by police last year and has vanished.

The UK report highlighted as areas of concern China's increasing harassment of defence lawyers and the detention of human rights activists.

Mr Qin was asked several times about Gao Zhisheng's case but he said he had nothing to add.

He then asked reporters to stop asking about the case, saying: "I will not answer you", adding "so I hope you will give up such efforts".

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