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China Dismisses Rights Concerns, Emphasizes Economic Development

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/04/09; April 9, 2001.]

BEIJING, Apr 9, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) China emphasized economic growth and waived aside concerns about its poor human rights record in a white paper on the country's human rights achievements in the last year, state media reported Monday.

The white paper, entitled "Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 2000", said last year marked a "milestone" on the road to modernization, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"The economy developed in a healthy way, democracy and the legal system were continuously strengthened, and the human rights situation maintained a good momentum of development," the white paper said.

China's white paper underscored a government drive to alleviate poverty in the country's poor inland provinces and pointed to an increase in per capita wealth since economic reforms began in the late 1970s.

"The rate of those in poverty among rural people has dropped to around three percent from 30.7 percent in 1978, forming a sharp contrast with the increase of (the) absolutely poverty-stricken population in the rest of the world," the Chinese white paper said.

The United Nations Development Program holds that China's poverty alleviation efforts "have provided a model for other developing countries, and even for the whole world," it added.

China's picture of its human rights record contrasts sharply with international perceptions. Human rights groups and Western governments have repeatedly expressed concern at what they believe is a deteriorating rights situation in the country.

The United States is to sponsor a resolution condemning China's human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which is currently holding its six-week annual session in Geneva.

Dissidents from China's ethnic minority regions of Tibet and Xinjiang as well as practitioners of the banned Falun Gong religious sect are lobbying the UN to take a harder line on China's human rights abuses.

China has detained tens of thousands of Falun Gong members and rights groups say more than 100 followers have so far died in police custody.

The Chinese government has also taken an increasingly hard line on separatist movements in its so-called autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

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