China makes rights pledge

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The Independent Online
CHINA yesterday made its most forthright commitment yet to sign the United Nations covenant on human rights. The foreign minister, Qian Qichen, said Peking "intends to sign" the pact, but gave no timescale.

Peking is buoyed by the European Union's decision not to sponsor a motion criticising China's human rights record at next week's Geneva meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission. It is now anxious to head off any such move by the United States.

An invitation has also been extended to Mary Robinson, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, to visit China, possibly in June.