Li vents wrath on Christopher: Human rights rift deepens between China and US

RELATIONS between China and the United States took an ominous turn yesterday when the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Peng, told the visiting US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, that 'China will never accept the US human rights concepts'. Mr Li defied Washington's threat to revoke China's beneficial trading status, saying: 'The US will suffer no less than China'.

The first day of discussions ended with sharp words from both sides. The senior US official with responsiblity for China, Winston Lord, said Chinese accusations that the US had cast 'shadows' on the visit 'was really Alice in Wonderland', given the spate of detentions of dissidents. '(Our) hosts certainly didn't offer the traditional Chinese hospitality in terms of atmosphere in advance.'

Aides described how, after a morning meeting and a working lunch with his counterpart, Mr Christopher had told Qian Qichen that 'he wished the meeting had been as good as the lunch'.

While officials clashed behind closed doors, out on the streets of Peking a blanket security clampdown was in place. Green-uniformed police swarmed in the area around the US embassy, and there was a much heavier police presence in many parts of the city. In the university area, plain-clothes security officials were in evidence, and access to campuses was more difficult.

The day started badly when Mr Qian told the US delegation that its human rights envoy, John Shattuck, had violated Chinese law earlier this month when he met China's most famous dissident, Wei Jingsheng. The meeting incensed the Chinese government.

Mr Li, in his afternoon meeting with Mr Christopher, declared that 'history has already proved that it is futile to apply pressure against China'. If relations between the two countries were good, then US business would face 'a historic opportunity'.

If the US revoked China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status, it 'will lose its share of the big Chinese market'. China could live with the economic consequences of no MFN, and would adjust, Mr Li explained.

The Chinese government is going to extraordinary lengths to stop dissidents and activists from talking to the US delegation, or even to foreign reporters. Buildings where well- known dissidents live were virtually cordoned off by security police.

The family of Xu Liangling, an elderly scientist who was one of a group of intellectuals who last week issued a letter calling for improved human rights, said by telephone that no one was being allowed into their house.

The cultural divide over human rights seemed to sharpen yesterday. Mr Li said it was 'unfair' for developed countries to impose their human rights concepts on developing countries.

Mr Lord said: 'We're not telling China to be like America. We are talking about universal rights, arbitary arrests and torture, which have nothing to do with nationality.'

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
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

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain