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China Condemns Bush Meeting  with Uighur Activist

China has lashed out at President Bush for holding talks with a Chinese human rights activist who the Chinese government has labeled a supporter of terrorism. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, condemned President Bush Thursday for meeting earlier this week in Prague with Rebiya Kadeer. Kadeer is a human rights activist from China's Uighur minority, a Turkic ethnic group.

Mr. Bush praised Kadeer for her work in bringing attention to human rights issues in China' northwestern province of Xinjiang, where local minorities have complained about heavy-handed rule from Beijing.

Mr. Bush also accused Beijing of jailing Kadeer's sons in retaliation for her human rights activities.

Beijing maintains that Kadeer supports terrorist and secessionist activities in Xinjiang. Jiang, the spokeswoman, said Mr. Bush's comments were inappropriate.

"Everyone knows clearly what kind of person Rebiya is," said Jiang. "She is purely a criminal. The U.S. side's words and deeds are a rude interference in China's internal affairs. To this we express our strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition."

Kadeer was once a prominent businesswoman in Xinjiang, and a leader respected by both Uighurs and local Chinese officials.

But as she became more outspoken on issues of Uighur rights, she fell out of favor with Beijing. She was arrested in 1999, charged with giving "state secrets" to visiting U.S. Congressmen, and served six years in jail.

She now lives in the U.S. as an exile, but still has family in Xinjiang, who have faced harassment from the Chinese authorities.

In April, one of Kadeer's sons was sentenced to nine years in prison for alleged secessionist activities. Two other sons have been jailed for alleged tax evasion.