GENEVA -- China today blocked a full-scale review of its human rights record by the U.N. Human Rights Commission despite U.S. criticism.
As in previous years, Beijing mobilized support from developing countries, which dominate the 53-nation commission, to prevent discussion of an attempt to censure China for the first time. The vote on China's ''no-action'' motion was 22-18, with 12 countries abstaining and one absent.
Countries from Yugoslavia to Equatorial Guinea also face scrutiny by the U.N. panel. But the China measure was the toughest battle, and Washington took the unusual step of announcing well in advance -- on Jan. 11 -- that it would propose the censure resolution.
''We must acknowledge that the situation of human rights in China remains very poor,'' said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Harold Koh. ''Its human rights record has not improved and has in fact deteriorated markedly over the last 12 months.''
Chinese Ambassador Qiao Zonghuai responded that Washington was engaging in an ''anti-China political farce'' which was ''a mockery toward the commission and its members.''
He accused Washington of using the commission ''to make unwarranted attacks on China'' and repeated Beijing's accusation that the U.S. motion ''serves the needs of its domestic party politics.''
Chinese officials have been keen to justify the crackdown on the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, one of the points covered by the U.S. resolution.
''The United States is giving unreserved support to the evil cult in China,'' Qiao said.
The resolution on China cited ''severe restrictions on the rights of citizens'' over the past year and also protested ''increased restrictions'' on Tibetans' freedoms and the ''harsh crackdown'' on opponents of the government.
Censure by the U.N. panel brings no penalties but brings international attention to countries' records. Both sides have lobbied hard among commission members.
Chinese authorities appeared to be delaying the verdict of an anti-corruption campaigner to avoid negative publicity ahead of the U.N. vote.
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