Friday, April 8, 2011

US envoy slams China's human rights record

Apr 8, 2011 SHANGHAI: Departing Ambassador Jon Huntsman has criticised China's human rights record in some of the sharpest public comments yet by an American official since the Chinese government began a harsh crackdown on dissent this year. Using an annual lecture on Sino-US ties to make his final public address as ambassador, Mr Huntsman said bluntly that prominent activists had been detained or jailed unfairly, naming last year's Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion, and Beijing artist Ai Weiwei, who was taken into custody on Sunday. He also accused China of wrongly imprisoning US geologist Feng Xue, who was gathering information on the oil industry and accused of stealing state secrets. 'The United States will never stop supporting human rights because we believe in the fundamental struggle for human dignity and justice wherever it may occur,' said Mr Huntsman, who leaves his diplomatic post this month amid speculation he may seek the Republican nomination for president. Mr Huntsman is a former governor of Utah and a fluent Mandarin speaker and expert Asia hand. Foreign diplomats normally avoid such open criticism of Chinese policies and actions here so as not to complicate relations and embarrass top officials. But Mr Huntsman's speech, made one day after the State Department called for Mr Ai's immediate release, praised the artist and other prominent activists, saying they 'challenged the Chinese government to serve the public in all cases at all times'. NEW YORK TIMES [US arrogance? Grandstanding? Scoring points for presidential bid? What was the point of this tirade? Spit it out in public before wikileaks reports it? Make life more difficult for new ambassador (Democrat - this current one is Republican)? How unambassadorial can you get?]

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