China's foreign ministry is rejecting claims made by the U.S. ambassador to Beijing that China's human rights record is deteriorating in the face of pro-democracy protests in the Middle East.
Ambassador Gary Locke told U.S. television show, The Charlie Rose Show, late Monday that China's human rights climate is "in a down period and it's getting worse."
Locke told host Charlie Rose that Chinese leaders were engaged in a significant crackdown on dissent following a wave of protests that toppled governments in the Middle East and North Africa last year.
He said Chinese leaders were afraid they could face similar protests.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Tuesday that Locke's comments were "inconsistent with the facts." Speaking to reporters at a regular press briefing, Liu insisted that China respects human rights and that those arrested were in violation of Chinese law.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.