- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2009

The State Department slammed China Wednesday for what it called a worsening human rights record, just days after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton angered rights activists by vowing not to allow the issue to “interfere” with progress on climate change, economic and security matters.

As she rolled out the department’s annual report on human rights practices around the world, Mrs. Clinton emphasized her personal commitment to the issue, on which she said she has worked for many years.

“It’s of profound importance to me and has influenced my views and shaped my beliefs,” she told reporters. “I’ll continue to focus my energy on human rights.”

The 2008 report said that the Chinese “government’s human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas” and included “extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labor, including prison labor.”

“The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under the law,” the document said.

“The government continued its coercive birth limitation policy, in some cases resulting in forced abortion or forced sterilization,” it said. “The government failed to protect refugees adequately, and the detention and forced repatriation of North Koreans continued to be a problem.”

As she headed to Beijing on Friday, Mrs. Clinton said that human rights are “part of our agenda with the Chinese, but the issue “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and security crises. We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and cooperation on each of those.”

Human Rights Watch said that Mrs. Clinton’s remarks sent “the wrong message to the Chinese government.”

“The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues,” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International’s advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific. “But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future U.S. initiatives to protect those rights in China.”

On Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton said raising the issue with foreign governments, which she said she did during her meetings in Beijing last week, is not enough, and “we must rely on more than one approach.”

“We’ll make this a global effort that reaches beyond governments alone,” she said without elaborating. “Human rights must be accepted, respected and protected” and “America must first be an exemplar of our own ideas.”

Chinese officials often dismiss U.S. criticism of its human rights policies as an attempt to impose Western values on China.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide