China responds to human rights criticism

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Human rights protest in Bejing (Image: longtrekhome, Wikipedia Commons)

The Olympics are set to begin in Bejing in ten days -- at last, China will have its moment in the sun. But the skies over the games are cloudy -- China's image has been taking a beating: corruption, pollution and Tibet. Amnesty International released a report that criticized China's human rights record. The organization cited a crack down on human rights activists and journalists, and it said more people have been sent to labor camps. "The World's" Mary Kay Magistad reports on China's response to the report.

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Human rights is a thorny issue in China, and not just for the obvious reasons. China's government considers the issue as a blunt political weapon the West has used for far to long to try to beat China into submission.

An increasingly confident China has been pushing back. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao did just that, after Amnesty International accused China of reneging on its promises of greater freedom: "Anyone who knows China well will not agree with the report. I hope Amnesty International could take off the tinted glasses it’s worn for too long. It should have an objective and justified attitude toward China."

The Chinese government says that should include recognizing the strides it has made in improving Chinese living standards, and doubling the average Chinese person's lifespan in the past half century. And, the government has stepped back from most people's lives, allowing them considerably more personal freedoms than it did even ten or fifteen years ago.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

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