Stop preaching on human rights, China tells US

Beijing: China has asked the "preacher" US to stop interfering in its internal affairs "under the pretext" of raising human rights issues, close on the heels of an annual State Department report slamming it for trying to limit freedom of speech and "arbitrarily" detaining activists.

"China and the US have disagreements on human rights issues, about which we are willing to engage in dialogue based on equality and mutual respect," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, reacting to the State Department`s report accusing Beijing of rights violations.

"But we are firmly against interfering in our internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues," Hong said in a statement last night.

The Chinese government attaches importance to protecting human rights, he said.

With continuing economic growth, constantly improving democracy and law system and ever booming cultural development, all ethnic groups in China enjoy extensive freedom and rights, Hong said.

He urged the US to reflect more on its own human rights issues rather than acting as a "preacher of human rights".

"The US should stop interfering in other country`s internal affairs with human rights report," he said.

China, which steadfastly cracks down on traces of dissidence and protests, holds annual dialogue with US on the rights issues.

The US State Department survey criticised China for worsening human rights record expressing concern over reports of Chinese intellectuals and activists being "arbitrarily detained" in recent weeks, including prominent artist Ai Weiwei.