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Asian Nations Respond Angrily to Annual US Human Rights Report

Asian nations are reacting harshly to the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report, released Monday. Leading the criticism was China, which accused the United States of implementing a double standard on human rights, and interfering in its internal affairs.

Asian nations figured prominently in the report, with North Korea named as world's most repressive government and China receiving criticism for continuing to imprison political dissidents and religious activists.

The U.S. report said China had committed numerous and serious abuses during 2004, especially around politically sensitive dates such as the 15th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy activists. In the weeks leading up to that anniversary, the authorities detained a number of writers and relatives of crackdown victims.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao on Tuesday criticized the U.S. report, saying it does nothing to improve Sino-U.S. relations.

Mr. Liu defended China's record over the past year, saying important progress has been made, and citing the insertion of the first-ever mention of human rights in China's constitution last year.

The Chinese official said the United States should - in his words - stop using double standards on human rights and stop interfering in the internal politics of China.

Thailand had a similar reaction to the U.S. report, which accused Thai authorities of abuses in dealing with separatists in the country's Muslim-dominated regions. The report specifically pointed to the deaths of more than 180 people at government hands.

Thai officials on Tuesday said the United States should not use its own standards to judge the human rights situation in other countries, and said the report could hurt ties between Bangkok and Washington.

Analysts expected North Korea's response to the U.S. report to be no less harsh. But Pyongyang had yet to issue an official reaction by Tuesday afternoon.