published: 2017-09-10 13:12:45(5 Sep 2017) China defended on Tuesday its commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, after a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said it tried to intimidate, blacklist and squelch the voices of rights advocates who operate within the United Nations system. At a regular briefing on Tuesday, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang accused HRW of being prejudiced against China. Announcing the report, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said that China’s influence and crackdown on civil society at home “make it a model of bad faith that challenges the integrity of the UN rights system.” The New York-based group’s report is based on interviews with 55 people including UN officials, diplomats and civil society representatives between May 2016 and March, and takes aim at a powerful, rising country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Geng also commented on the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea’s nuclear test on Sunday; calling on all sides to “make efforts to avoid an escalation of tensions.” His comments came as South Korea expanded its military arsenal with more powerful missiles for a so-called “kill chain” pre-emptive strike capability to cope with the North’s growing nuclear and missile threat. Since the late 1970s, South Korean missile developments have been limited by a bilateral “guideline” between the United States and Seoul. It was updated in 2012 to allow the South to increase the range of its weapons from 300 kilometres (186 miles) to 800 kilometres (497 miles). An agreement revealed on Tuesday removes the 500-kilogramme (1,100 pound) warhead limit on South Korea’s maximum-range missiles, which would allow the South to potentially target the North’s underground facilities and shelters. Geng also commented on a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the southeastern city of Xiamen on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit of five emerging economies, earlier on Tuesday. The two nations have been embroiled in a prolonged territorial dispute in the Doklam Plateau high in the Himalayas, where Chinese troops had started constructing a road. India last week agreed to pull back troops, but the 10-week standoff was the two nations’ most protracted in decades, and added to their longstanding strategic rivalry.
On the meeting, Geng said China hoped that India can view Chinese developments “in a correct and rational way,” and that the two sides should “respect each other, seek common grounds and put aside difference, and uphold peace and tranquillity on the border area.”