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On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for Mr. Ai’s release and criticized China for what she said was a deteriorating human rights situation in the first part of 2011.

Mrs. Clinton made the remarks while announcing the release of the U.S. State Department’s annual assessment of human rights around the world. It said China stepped up restrictions on critics and tightened control of civil society in 2010 by limiting freedom of speech and Internet access.

China blasted back at Washington on Saturday with a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website saying the United States should reflect more on its own domestic rights abuses.

“The U.S. should stop interfering in other country’s internal affairs with this human rights report,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted as saying.

Associated Press videographer David Wivell in Beijing and AP writer Min Lee in Hong Kong contributed to this report.