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China Rejects Criticism Over Jailing of US Citizen

The Chinese government rigorously defended its legal system Tuesday in the wake of international criticism over the jailing of U.S. citizen Xue Feng for stealing state secrets.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang rejected arguments that Xue's eight-year prison sentence would make international companies think twice before sending foreign nationals to work in China's strategic resource sector.

He also implied that international criticism of China's legal system is biased.

Qin asked rhetorically if the Chinese court and declared Xue innocent and released him, would the international media declare Chinese judiciary process is public and transparent? He said he can promise that during Xue's hearing, the Chinese courts protected all aspects of his legal rights.

Qin also maintained foreign countries can not interfere with China's domestic politics and judicial supremacy.

Many human rights organizations question the fairness of China's judicial system. They say suspects often are tortured, rarely have adequate legal representation, have limited rights to present defense evidence and often are tried hurriedly, without relatives or others to witness the proceedings.

Xue's sentence follows the 10-year sentence handed down in March to Stern Hu, with the Australian mining firm Rio Tinto, for accepting bribes and possessing commercial secrets.

Chinese authorities detained Xue two-and-half-years ago for buying a then publicly available database of information about China's oil industry. The government classified the database as a state secret after Xue had purchased it. China's state secrets law is broad and vague, and many documents that are considered public information in other countries, are secret.

The United States led the international expression of dismay and anger over China's opaque legal system and the jailing of a foreign worker.