China to U.S.: Right Back at Ya

This year's State Department annual report on human rights practices around the world puts China at the top of the list of violators repressing freedom of speech and information, including blocking access to Internet sites.

The report also says China squelches religious freedom, particularly in Tibet. It accuses officials in China of harassing and arresting reporters and activists seeking to exercise freedoms, and of discrimination against women and minorities.

For the last eight years, China has issued a rebuttal in the form of its "Human Rights Record of the United States." This year is no different. In its annual 'back-at-ya' document, China criticizes the United States for using its military might to trespass on the sovereignty of other countries and for violating human rights domestically and across the globe.

"As in previous years, the State Department pointed the finger at human rights conditions in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but avoided touching on the human rights situation in the United States," the document said.

Qin Gang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters that China's aim is to illustrate a double standard and that the report "is like a mirror as a gift to the U.S. to let the Americans see their own human rights condition."

Qin also suggested that China would like to give the U.S. books on ideas of Confucius to "help govern the country well, help you become a good person."

China's rebuttal is distributed in China by the state-run media organization Xinhua. The United States' report on China's human rights violations is not distributed within China.

The Chinese government prides itself every year on releasing this document, as its right to hit back. Critics say it's ironic that they insist on such a protest, while many citizens in China do not get the same indulgence.

"The United States is open to constructive criticism of its record. Issues that countries have raised regarding the United States' actions are mirrored in the active debate of our government, free press, NGOs and civil society," Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman at the U.S embassy in Beijing, told ABC News. "They are a testimony to our commitment to a free, open and democratic society. The U.S. looks forward to the day when Chinese press, NGOs and civil society are allowed to operate freely and to voice open criticism of Chinese practices."

Here's how China lays out its argument:

The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

China's report notes that a large number of innocent Iraqi civilians have died in the war, citing a Bloomberg School of Public Health survey that estimates that more than 655,000 Iraqis have died since March 2003.

It notes the Haditha incident when a "U.S Marine unit searched an Iraqi community door-to-door and slaughtered 24 Iraqi civilians after a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb."

The document says the United States has a flagrant record of violating the Geneva Conventions in abusing prisoners during the wars in Iraq and the Afghanistan, citing an Australian TV report last year that aired pictures of abuses at Abu Ghraib.

Civil Rights Infringements:

China says that after Sept. 11 the FBI and other agencies charged 6,472 people with terrorism-related activities. Citing a report by Syracuse University, China notes that three-quarters of the suspects arrested did not go to trial due to lack of evidence.

China argues the United States violated the rights of its citizens with its domestic surveillance program, mentioning a Washington Post survey published in December that said two-thirds of Americans believe the FBI and other federal agencies are intruding on their privacy.

Racial Inequality:

China argues that ethnic minorities are "at the bottom of American society," noting statistics by the Census Bureau that the average household income for white families in 2005 was $50,622, compared to $36,278 for Hispanics and $30,940 for blacks.

The report says the judicial system is unfair, referring to statistics by the National Urban League that says in sentences issued in 12 crime categories in state courts, black males were sentenced to more time than white males in all of them.

Economic Disparity:

China says the United States fails to guarantee people's economic rights, citing the Census Bureau report of 2006 that says there were 37 million people living in poverty in the United States in 2005, or about one in eight Americans.

Crime in the U.S.:

The document quotes the U.S. Justice Department report of Sept. 10, 2006, which says there were 5.2 million violent crimes in the United States in 2005, up 2.5 percent from the previous year. China says this illustrates that people's lives, property and personal security are not protected in the United States.

In Politics, Money Talks:

The Chinese document says the United States prides itself on being the "beacon of democracy," but that the U.S. democracy is one in which money reigns supreme. It quotes a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics who told USA Today last year that in 2004, candidates for the House of Representatives who raised less than $1 million had almost no chance of winning. It also notes the USA Today report that says a successful Senate campaign costs $7 million.