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China seeks dialogue on human rights


STOCKHOLM, March 19: Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan clashed on Friday with his Swedish counterpart Anna Lindh over human rights issues during a visit here, but stressed Beijing's desire to continue its dialogue with the international community over the latter's concerns about the treatment of dissidents.

In a sharply worded speech at a lunch with the Chinese minister, Lindh criticized China'd human rights policies, in particular the use of the death penalty.

Jiaxuan later told the Press that he preferred dialogue over confrontation, and that China's policy was to try to "narrow distances" to reach consensus with other countries in as many areas as possible.

International observers have speculated that a resolution criticizing Beijing would be presented at the United Nation's Human Rights Commission's annual meeting in Geneva next week.

Jiaxuan said he "was not afraid of fighting", and added that China had clashed several times in the past with the international community, to Beijing's advantage.

But diplomatic sources in Brussels have indicated that European Union member states would not support such a resolution, preferring to continue a dialogue with China.

Jiaxuan also said that China was in talks with the United States on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), and was to start talks with the European Union and Japan, which he hoped could be concluded soon.-AFP