US Ambassador Gary Locke has China's Foreign Ministry in a dither, this time after he discussed China's human rights situation on an American television show.
In a conversation on The Charlie Rose Show, Locke, the former governor of Washington and US commerce secretary, discussed China's declining human-rights record. Locke said China appears to be "in a down period and it's getting worse."
In the lead-up to China's national power transition, the government has silenced dissent, harassing and arresting those who criticize its actions and policies.
The failed Jasmine uprising in January seemed to heighten security concerns and led to a well-documented and all-out assault on critics of the government. Dozens were arrested and detained and many have reported being tortured while in custody.
In response on Tuesday, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Locke wasn't telling the truth.
"China has attached great importance to promoting and safeguarding the basic rights of the Chinese people, including the freedom of belief and speech," Liu Weimin, ministry spokesman, said, according to the official China Daily newspaper. "China's progress in human rights is obvious to all."
The paper said Liu cited a survey showing 86 percent of the Chinese people are satisfied with the country's development. He admitted there are "challenges," since "we have a population of 1.3 billion and we spent only 30 years in finishing a path that took the Western world 300 years."