A Chinese Communist Party-run paper is slamming comparisons between late South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela and China's jailed activist Liu Xiaobo.
In the wake of Mandela's death last week, some Western commentators and Chinese social media users have criticized Beijing for praising the former South African leader a while cracking down on its own dissidents, such as Liu.
Some commentators have also noted similarities between the two Nobel Peace Prize winners, who were both jailed for their political activism.
The Global Times on Wednesday dismissed the correlation, saying the West is using Liu's case to defy China's judicial sovereignty and smear its human rights record.
In an editorial, it praised Mandela's "struggles, tolerance and efforts to bridge differences." In contrast, it called Liu "a Chinese prisoner who confronted authorities and was rejected by mainstream Chinese society."
The paper also lashed out at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Monday called for Beijing to release the scholar and human rights activist, who has now been jailed for five years.
Kerry expressed "deep concern" about Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, who has been confined to her home in Beijing. He said China should guarantee to the couple and their family members all internationally recognized human rights protections and freedoms.
The Global Times, however, dismissed such criticism as the result of the West's "sense of superiority," and its "prejudice against other non-Western political systems."
It said Liu went through a "strict legal procedure" and was subject to a system it said "makes sure a society of 1.3 billion people runs smoothly."
On Tuesday, China's foreign ministry also warned against U.S. "interference" in its internal affairs, saying only Chinese people are qualified to speak about the Chinese human rights situation.
Liu Xiaobo was detained December 8, 2008 for writing an appeal for democracy in China. He was convicted of subversion in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was awarded the Nobel Prize a year later, but was not allowed to travel to Norway to collect the prize.
His case has attracted international headlines and prompted outrage from governments and human rights groups around the world.
China's Communist Party-controlled courts have convicted a rising number of activists and dissidents in recent years on subversion or incitement of subversion charges.