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Scepticism greets Xi's speech

China's number two concedes 'room for improvement' on human rights

  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • February 15, 2012
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Catholic reaction in Hong Kong today to yesterday's human rights speech by China's vice president was sceptical.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) in Hong Kong who asked not to be named said Xi Jinping's remarks were “empty and general” and made only for “building up an image to the outside world that the would-be state leader is open and willing to listen.”

Xi acknowledged in his address in New York while on an official visit to the US that there is “room for improvement” in China's human rights.

Since China’s reform and opening about 30 years ago, the tremendous achievements on human rights is obvious to all, said Xi, who is likely to succeed the incumbent president, Hu Jintao, next year.

China has many challenges to face in terms of improving democracy and human rights, Xi told the press.

Rights groups reported yesterday that another monk in Sichuan in China's troubled southwest had set himself on fire, the fifth such case this month. The Free Tibet group said the monk was an ethnic Tibetan apparently protesting at China rule in the region.

“One has to be careful about the Chinese leaders’ definition of human rights when they speak on this issue. They usually refer to the right of having enough food and accommodation,” said the JPC spokesperson.

“Those are fundamental rights but civil and political rights of the people are more important,” she said.

“In the past two years, from the terms of sentence of dissidents, who were mostly jailed for articles that they wrote, we can in fact see human rights in China is moving backward,” she said.

“We are conscientious in having high hopes to changes after the new leadership as it is a matter of political system,” she said.

The US government has also come under fire for Xi's visit. It sends “wrong signal” to engage in diplomatic niceties with the Chinese leader, said Renee Xia of China-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

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