The U.S. State Department has accused China of wide-ranging and routine human rights violations, prompting Beijing to shoot back with its own report slamming Washington's "increasingly grave" rights record.
The State Department's accusations against China were published Thursday as part of a congressionally mandated annual report on the state of human rights across the globe. The report covered the year 2014.
The 148 pages that dealt with China highlighted issues including the imprisonment of activists and government critics, the repression of ethnic minorities, state censorship, and widespread corruption within the Communist Party.
"Repression and coercion were routine," the report read, "particularly against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public interest issues, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive cases."
In what has become an annual tradition, China issued a retaliatory report that said the U.S. was "haunted by spreading guns [and the] frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens' civil rights.”
The report also mentioned the CIA's "cruel tortures" of terror suspects, government surveillance programs, the "excessive use of force by police officers," and "institutional discrimination against ethnic minorities."
The dueling reports were issued just days after senior U.S. and Chinese officials held annual talks in Washington where the public statements mostly focused on bilateral cooperation rather than criticism.
China has long complained about U.S. criticism of its rights record, saying such statements represent inappropriate interference in Beijing's internal affairs. It also argues it should not be held to the same standards as more developed countries.