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China slams US election 'farce' in annual rights report
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 9, 2017

Beijing on Thursday accused American politicians of corruption and hypocrisy in its yearly rebuttal to US criticisms of China's human rights record, saving an extra heaping of invective for the country's divisive presidential race.

"In 2016, money politics and power-for-money deals controlled the presidential election, which was full of lies and farces. There were no guarantees of political rights," Beijing's report said.

"Waves of boycotts and protests fully exposed the hypocritical nature of US democracy," it added, without mentioning restrictions on freedom of speech in China.

The report was issued by China's cabinet in response to the US State Department's annual survey of human rights in 199 countries released Friday. Beijing does not release rights reports on other countries.

Human rights are a longstanding source of tensions between China and the US, which imposed sanctions after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing left hundreds, by some estimates more than 1,000, dead.

Unlike the US, China does not have a democratic multi-party system. The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly imprisoned those who openly challenge its right to rule or have protested publicly.

However, Beijing's report highlighted recent cases of police violence and racial discrimination in America to argue that the US is in no position to take the moral high ground.

The report relied heavily on coverage by US media outlets such as the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, Beijing is highly sensitive about critical coverage of its political system in the international press, with multiple journalists being denied authorisation to stay in China in recent years.

The US State Department's own report accused China of "repression and coercion" of civil society groups. It also noted encroachment on residents' liberties in the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

EU approves new military HQ
Brussels (AFP) March 6, 2017
The European Union on Monday approved plans for a military headquarters to coordinate overseas security operations, foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said. Mogherini, who has pushed hard for the EU to take on an increased military role, said foreign and defence ministers of the 28 member states "unanimously" backed the project. "Today we decided to establish a MPCC (Military Planni ... read more

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