Reuters: China rebuffs Germany' s Fischer on rights record.


BEIJING, March 21 (Reuters) - China defended its human rights record on Thursday in response to sharp criticism by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer at a United Nations rights meeting in Geneva.

"The accusations that some countries have made on China' human rights conditions have been totally unfounded," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.

At the United Nations Human Rights Commission on Wednesday, Fischer urged China to end what he called its persecution of religious communities and the oppression of ethnic minorities.

He also said it should grant substantial autonomy to Tibet and stop persecuting followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement which China outlawed and declared an [slanderous term used by Chinese government] in 1999.


Falun Gong members abroad say thousands of Chinese followers have been detained since the movement was outlawed, and allege that 358 have died in captivity, a charge China denies.


Despite Fischer' s comments, it was still not clear whether any country would present a formal resolution to the U.N.' top human rights body condemning China.

Washington usually presents a motion, which is then blocked by Chinese procedural manoeuvring. But this year, the United States is not on the 53-country commission because it failed to win re-election in an upset vote in New York last autumn.

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