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US Dismisses China Criticism of Plan for UN Human Rights Resolution - 2004-03-23

The United States is dismissing Chinese criticism of a U.S. plan to seek a resolution criticizing Beijing's human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said two recent meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials on human rights have not produced what Washington would consider to be improvements.

Mr. Boucher said since no progress has been made in China's human rights situation, the Bush administration is not fazed by China's decision to suspend its human rights dialogue with the United States.

"Since December 2002, commitments were made, but not carried out," he said. "So, those talks failed to provide the kind of positive movement on human rights that we had hoped for, and subsequent discussions failed as well to produce that kind of outcome. So, it doesn't bother us too much not to have another round like that. If there were prospects of positive results and positive progress, obviously, we'd be willing to talk."

The spokesman added that Washington believes the rights situation in China has actually deteriorated. He said this is why the United States is seeking a resolution against China at the current session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

"We think it's more important to try to move forward in Geneva, try to use that as a way to press for positive and concrete steps by China to meet its international obligations and to stand up in that way for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Chinese people," he said.

The Chinese government summoned the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing to the foreign ministry to register its strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the proposed U.S. resolution.

Chinese officials say the United States is not recognizing recent steps the country has made to protect rights. These include a decision at this year's National People's Congress to include the first mention of "human rights" in the country's Constitution.

U.S. officials counter that China's Communist government has continued to arrest dissidents and members of unofficial churches. The United States also has criticized Beijing for using the war on terror as an excuse to justify a crackdown on suspected separatists among the country's Muslim Uighur minority.