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China attacks U.S. as ‘moneybag’ democracy, poor on human rights

March 4, 1997 GMT

BEIJING (AP) _ China criticized the United States today as a ``moneybag democracy,″ a volley in an annual battle of words as Washington decides whether to recommend China for U.N. censure for its bleak human rights record.

In a lengthy commentary by the official Xinhua News Agency, China condemned the United States for favoring the rich, breeding violence and poorly protecting its women, minorities and children.

``The United States ... brags about being the model of democracy ... although everyone knows that this 200-year-old American democracy remains a democracy for the rich,″ Xinhua said.

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The commentary was China’s response to a U.S. State Department report in January that criticized China for using jailings and harassment to silence all dissent.

It comes a week after U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s visit to Beijing, during which she told leaders that unless China improved its human rights record, Washington would support the censure of China at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

For the past six years, China has managed to beat back censure attempts by successfully lobbying other developing countries. Citing recently improving ties, Beijing has asked Washington not to support censure at this year’s commission meeting in late March.

Chinese leaders claim that authoritarian rule is necessary to provide the most fundamental rights to their 1.2 billion people _ adequate food and shelter _ and to protect citizens from disorder.

``We are ... resolutely opposed to politicizing the human rights issues and resolutely opposed to the mistaken method of using human rights as an excuse to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang told reporters today.

In another longstanding conflict, China said today it has met the requirements for entry into the World Trade Organization, even though trade negotiators say chances are slim that China will join the body this year.

Tang said China has reduced barriers to trade and taken other steps, ``so it should be said China has already fulfilled conditions for entering the World Trade Organization.″

Negotiations on China’s entry resumed Monday in Geneva, but such talks have failed repeatedly over the years because of complaints by WTO members that China’s trade regime is still too closed to foreign companies.

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Beijing has accused the United States and the 15-nation European Union of blocking its entry for political reasons.

With relations strained for much of the 1990s, Washington and Beijing decided last year to improve ties by holding high-level talks on human rights and other areas of disagreement.

Washington wants Beijing to resume contacts with the Red Cross on prison visits, release some political prisoners and sign two international human rights pacts.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterated that Beijing was considering signing the pacts but warned against putting pressure on China _ a warning also included in the Xinhua commentary.

``If the United States insists on having its own way, it will inevitably provoke more counterattacks from other countries,″ Xinhua said. ``In the end, it will only hurt itself with the very stick it has been brandishing against others.″