China defies US pressure on rights

PEKING police yesterday took in for questioning one of the student leaders of the June 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, just hours after the United States Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, had warned of the 'strong distaste' felt at the recent detentions of dissidents. China's actions would have a 'negative effect' on his visit to China later this week, he added.

As the two sides traded insults, China hit out at 'irresponsible remarks' from President Bill Clinton, who has called on China to release those still held, including three activist lawyers who face criminal charges.

China's comments and actions during the day made it clear that Peking puts maintenance of its internal political and social stability well ahead of yielding to Washington's concerns on human rights. With inflation high, corruption rampant and labour disputes growing, China's annual meeting of parliament, starting tomorrow, will focus on how to manage economic reform without risking social unrest.

Wang Dan, who last week was detained for 24 hours but rejected police suggestions that he leave Peking during the National People's Congress (NPC), was taken from his home yesterday evening for questioning and later released. On Monday, Mr Wang had said in an interview broadcast on ABC Television: 'If the government continues these widespread arrests then we will at least have to engage in collective protest.'

He told Reuters by telephone that the police accused him of 'falsehoods and rumour-mongering' in his recent speeches and said his actions and words had gone outside the limit of what a 'socialist citizen' could do.

Peking is determined to stop dissidents meeting visiting US officials. Last week the visiting US human rights envoy, John Shattuck, met China's most famous dissident, Wei Jingsheng, who was subsequently detained for 30 hours.

The atmosphere has soured considerably ahead of Friday's arrival in Peking of Mr Christopher. Speaking in Canberra yesterday, en route to Asia, he said: 'It would be hard to overstate the strong distaste we all feel at recent detentions and other measures taken by the Chinese.' He added: 'Certainly these actions will have a negative effect on my trip to China as well as the subsequent review within the US.'

Washington will decide in June whether China has made sufficient human rights improvements for its Most Favoured Nation trading status to be renewed.

China yesterday was defiant about the possibility that the recent detentions of dissidents were putting billions of dollars of exports at risk. 'No foreign country, organisation or individual has the right to make irresponsible remarks or interfere,' a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Around 10 political activists, many of whom were involved in the 1989 democracy movement, have been hauled in by security forces and told to keep a low profile during the NPC and Mr Christopher's visit.

'China is a sovereign state. To summon and interrogate according to law those who violate criminal law and other laws falls entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty . . . This issue, which is purely an internal affair of China, has nothing to do with the forthcoming visit to China by the US Secretary of State,' said the Foreign Ministry.

Leading article, page 15

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee