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U.S. report slams China's terrorism war

WASHINGTON -- When Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji addressed the National People's Congress, he added "fighting terrorism" to the list of ways of ensuring social stability in China.

The statement in Beijing came as the U.S State Department released its annual report on global human rights criticizing China's human rights record.

The report accuses China of using the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism as a pretext to justify a crackdown on Uighur Muslim separatists in the country's northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region.

As in previous years, the report documented China's human rights record across the board, with a focus on the lack of religious freedom.

The report noted serious human rights abuses in Tibet and in Xinjiang province in western China, where security was tightened considerably last year.

Beijing blames the small Uighur separatist movement for a spate of bombings and assassinations and says it is directly linked to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on America.

"The fear of spillover from the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan and a perceived opportunity to legitimize measures against Muslim Uighur activists under the anti-terrorism umbrella led to an intensification of a crackdown in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China late in the year," the report said.

"Chinese Government officials asserted that some persons engaged in legitimate political or religious activities were, in fact, involved in terrorist activities or had ties to al-Qaida."

In January, the Chinese government released a report alleging Uighur separatists in Xinjiang received funds and training from Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror network.

Yet, the U.S. has so far refused to link the Islamic separatists in Xinjiang to the war on terrorism.

The report also highlighted China's "harsh and comprehensive" campaign against the Falun Gong spiritual group, which was banned in 1999, and said thousands of Falun Gong followers were serving sentences in labor camps.




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