As China prepares to host the Summer Olympics in August, it has come under increasing international scrutiny and criticism for its crackdown in Tibet and for its human rights record in general. The British Foreign Office, in its annual human rights report, said Wednesday that China's poor human rights record overshadows the country's considerable economic achievements. Tendai Maphosa attended Foreign Secretary David Miliband's launch of the report and filed this report for VOA.
The human rights report is wordwide - from forced marriages in Britain's immigrant communities to human rights abuses in countries including Burma, Afghanistan, Iran and China.
Presenting the report, Foreign Secretary David Milband said China has made tremendous economic progress but has a long way to go regarding human rights.
"China is a striking example here, a country which has lifted more people out of poverty than any in human history, but now faces the urgent challenge of expanding the political and social rights of its people to match the economic and social progress which has been made. And, it is in all of our interests that they succeed, and that is why we will keep arguing frankly and directly for greater human rights in China," he said.
But Miliband said a boycott of the Summer Olympics in Beijing to protest the situation would not improve human rights in China.
In Afghanistan, the report calls for improvements in overall governance, freedom of expression, women's rights and the judicial system.
In Burma, the report says, the human rights record continues to deteriorate. It describes the situation as bleak, citing in particular the crackdown last year on anti-government, pro-democracy demonstrations.
The report also says human rights in Iran continued to deteriorate over the past year with further restrictions on freedom of expression, association and any form of dissent.
The report says no country has a perfect human rights record and cites the United States' prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Miliband said the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States and subsequent terrorist attacks elsewhere, including in Britain, changed the consciousness of the world. But, he said, he disagrees that human rights should be set aside when combating terrorism.
"That's why, for example.... it's our clear policy never to be complicit in torture or rendition to torture. That's why we need to ensure that we adhere to all our commitments to human rights at home and abroad," he said.
The human rights report lists 21 countries of particular concern - including Burma, China, Iraq and Zimbabwe. North Korea, Russia, Israel/Palestine and China are also highlighted, as are trouble spots such Tibet, Sudan, Pakistan and Nepal.