China says US summit next month should not focus on human rights

Chinese officials say country does not want human rights agenda to dominate US summit next month

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping

China is open to discussing human rights issues at a September summit with the US however does not wish to make the issue the focus of the meeting, a senior Chinese official said Friday.

Ahead of the US-China Summit in September, Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski called on China to improve its worsening human rights record.

In a statement made on Thursday, Malinowski said the US is alarmed over human rights violations in China and the meeting between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will discuss the issue.

Xi’s almost one week long visit to the US in September will mark his first White House visit since his term in office started in 2013.

A senior official at China's Foreign Ministry, Li Junhua, responded on Friday that China is willing to discuss human rights during the summit next month. However, he said, "This issue should not dominate our discussion about our relationship. We should see a bigger picture: How do we seek more cooperation between each other while shelving these differences?” the Daily Mail reported.

On the other hand, several US lawmakers sent a letter to Obama urging him to make the issue of human rights a priority at the summit, where subjects such as cyber security, trade and climate change will also be discussed.

Malinowski referred to discussions with Chinese government officials as "very detailed and substantive," however, he also said there were “very profound differences” between both sides.

Malinowski said Chinese officials who participated in the discussion raised the issue of police violence against black people, such as the killing of unarmed black man Michael Brown in Ferguson last year. However, the conversation mainly concerned the human rights situation in China.

Malinowski demanded the immediate release of several lawyers, saying that their detentions undermines China’s recent rhetoric over the rule of law.

“It's hard to have rule of law when lawyers are being arrested for doing their jobs,” he said.

The US says a Chinese draft law regulating non-governmental organisations should be revised, since it would damage US engagement in the country. However Li said the US did not have a good grasp of the law’s provisions.

On Jun 26, 2015, China condemned the United States for its "terrible human rights record." China released its own human rights reports to counter the annual reports by Washington on the human rights situation in China and other countries.

The US report criticised the situation in both Tibet and Xinjiang, saying "repression and coercion were routine" against activists and ethnic minorities in the regions.

The report also criticised Hong Kong for limiting voters' choices as well as limitations on press freedom. Hong Kong hit back at the report, saying foreign powers "should not interfere" with its constitutional development.

TRTWorld and agencies