BEIJING — China issued a strong protest Thursday against criticism by President Bush of its human rights record, saying it is resentful and has made its views known to Washington.
Beijing also accused the human rights group Amnesty International of interfering in its internal affairs by publishing a report condemning China for secret executions, torture and unfair trials.
"We have all along been opposed to interfering in China's internal affairs, smearing and attacking the Chinese government by the U.S. Congress under the pretext of freedom and human rights," Li Jinhua, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said.
"Now the U.S. government has gone so far as to issue the public announcement at the request of Congress," she said. "We are extremely resentful of this and hereby express our strong protest."
President Bush, who had taken controversial steps to preserve ties with China since last June's bloody crackdown, last week sharply criticized Beijing's use of deadly force to suppress a campaign for democracy.
Signing a proclamation making May 13 a national day in support of human rights, he said the force used on protesters "went far beyond the legitimate requirements of law and order."
Washington says China has made only minimal improvements in human rights since suppressing the democracy movement, and some members of Congress are calling on Bush to end most-favored-nation status for Chinese imports.
China announced last week that it had released 211 people detained in connection with the demonstrations. It said 431 were still under investigation. Analysts believe thousands are still held.
Jiang Zemin, general secretary of the Communist Party, said in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters that 42 university and college students are among those still held.
In the interview, to be shown tonight on ABC's "20/20" program, Jiang said it might have been possible to avert the army crackdown last June if Beijing had adopted "resolute measures," such as barring gatherings in Tian An Men Square, when the demonstrations began. He said authorities had learned from "our mistakes" and now have made "adequate preparations in terms of strengthening the police force and storing of non-lethal weapons."