|China accuses US of trying to sabotage Olympics|
|Friday, 01 August 2008|
The Chinese government accused US politicians of displaying "evil motives" and trying to "sabotage the Olympics" today after the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning Beijing's record on human rights, reports The Guardina..
A foreign ministry spokesman also condemned George Bush for meeting five prominent Chinese political activists just days before he attends the opening ceremony.
The host nation faces a growing storm of overseas criticism that it has failed to live up to its Olympic promise to improve human rights and allow complete reporting freedom for visiting journalists.
The Chinese government rejects such accusations, saying it has eased controls on the media and religion, as well as reducing the number of death sentences handed down by courts.
But the House of Representatives resolution, which passed yesterday by 419 votes to 1, called for immediate action to stop the arrests of civil activists and Tibetans and to put pressure on China to stop supporting Burma and Sudan.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the US government should curtail "the disgusting actions of this small group of anti-Chinese lawmakers".
The bill, he said, "fully exposed their evil motives to politicize the Olympics and interrupt and sabotage the Beijing Olympics".
The White House said Bush had expressed "concerns" to the group about the human rights situation in China. The president also told the Chinese foreign minister that the Olympics were an "opportunity to demonstrate compassion on human rights and freedom".
Beijing expressed strong discontent. "By arranging such a meeting between its leader and these people and making irresponsible remarks on China's human rights and religious situation, the US side has rudely interfered in China's internal affairs and sent a seriously wrong message to anti-China hostile forces," Liu was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.
He said the five people that Bush met had harmed China's national security by engaging in "anti-China splittism activities and hostile sabotage activities under the banner of so-called 'human rights and religion'".
Although Bush has insisted he will attend the Olympics to watch the sport rather than lecture on politics, the furore over human rights shows no sign of dying down.
This week, the US-based group Human Rights in China reported that a school employee in Sichuan province was sentenced to a "re-education through labour" camp for a year because he took and posted online photographs of schools that collapsed during the earthquake. This is a sensitive subject for the authorities, which have restricted access to many quake-hit schools and warned angry parents not to speak to the media.
China's censorship of the internet was also been thrown into the spotlight earlier this week, when the International Olympic Committee was forced to backtrack on promises that journalists visiting for the Games will have unfettered access to the web.
Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and the BBC's Mandarin service are as restricted in the Olympic media centres as outside.
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