GENEVA (AP) — Faced with a U.N. review of its human rights, China acknowledged Tuesday that it still faces shortcomings but insists it has reduced poverty, deepened judicial reforms and protections of ethnic minorities.
China put its pride and promise to better itself on display at the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, which reviews each nation's record once every four years, as human rights groups and activists called attention to what they described as serious abuses and violations of international protections such as crackdowns on human rights defenders and ethnic Tibetan and Uighur populations.
Tibetan activists, meanwhile, managed to get past U.N. security and enter the grounds of the Palais des Nations, where the meeting is being held, and unfurl a banner denouncing China's rule in Tibet.
A special envoy for China's foreign ministry, Wu Hailong, launched the three-hour session in the 47-nation Council with a speech that the nation has made many improvements but acknowledged the difficulties of a big, fast-growing country with more than 1.3 billion people and 56 ethnic groups.
Other nations called for better treatment of women, disabled people, and ethnic minorities and for a wide range of judicial improvements, such as an easing in death penalty cases and detentions of human rights defenders.
China said that since the last such review in 2009, when it accepted 42 recommendations by other countries, the country had reduced poverty, deepened reforms of the judicial systems and protections for ethnic minority groups, along with helping to spread "the right to development" among other developing countries.
"Unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remains an acute problem," Wu told the Geneva-based Council.
He also acknowledged that social programs lag "in parts of the ethnic minority regions" and there was insufficient human rights "awareness" among law enforcement personnel.
"We are soberly aware that China still faces many difficulties and challenges in promoting and protecting human rights," Wu said.