GENEVA - The United States and European Union (EU) accused China on Tuesday of using arrests and harassment to silence human rights activists, also voicing consternation at the death in custody of a prominent dissident.
During the debate at the UN Human Rights Council, China's delegation responded that Cao Shunli had died in hospital last week of tuberculosis and that the Chinese people enjoyed the right to freedom of expression.
It also tried unsuccessfully to stop a speech by Ti-Anna Wang, daughter of Wang Bingzhang, a physician serving a life sentence for his role in overseas Chinese democracy movements.
Criticism of China is rare at the Geneva forum. Western states and activists took advantage of a catch-all agenda item to complain of violations by China, which is among its 47 member states this year.
"China has increased arrests, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions of those who peacefully challenge official policies and actions, including Xu Zhiyong and Ilham Tohti," said Peter Mulrean, U.S. charge d'affaires.
The Chinese government had increased Internet controls, media censorship, and continued to limit religious freedom, particularly in Tibetan and Uighur areas, he said.