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Incensed by rights criticism, China suspends exchanges with Denmark

April 15, 1997

BEIJING (AP) _ Angered by Denmark’s decision to sponsor a resolution criticizing its human rights record, China announced today it would suspend bilateral state visits and talks on human rights.

The move followed threats by Beijing last week, before Denmark put the motion before the U.N. Human Rights Commission, that such criticism would be a ``rock that smashes down on the Danish government’s head.″

Accusing Denmark of interfering in China’s internal affairs and ``hurting the feelings of the Chinese people,″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said China would suspend all important official visits between the countries.

China also has called off all discussions with Denmark related to human rights, Shen said.

It was unclear if the decision would apply to a plan by Danish Prince Joachim and his Hong Kong-born wife, Princess Alexandra, to attend July 1 ceremonies marking Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese rule.

China also cancelled a visit planned for June by Dutch Economics Minister Hans Wijers, the Dutch government announced. The statement expressed disappointment and said the decision must have been linked to the Netherlands’ decision to back the critical resolution in Geneva.

Comments Monday in Washington by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the leader of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, Martin Lee, also drew China’s ire.

During her meeting with Lee _ an outspoken critic of China’s handling of preparations for the British colony’s reversion to Chinese rule _ Albright declared U.S. support for ``the full political rights″ of Hong Kong.

Shen accused Lee of depending on foreign countries to manipulate Hong Kong affairs and shrugged off criticism of China’s decision to curb some of the city’s civil liberties despite pledges to leave its legal and economic systems intact for at least 50 years.

``Before June 30, Hong Kong is an issue to be handled by China and Britain. After July 1, 1997, it will become an internal affair of China. No foreign government no foreign organization has any say,″ Shen said.

China rejects foreign criticism of its human rights policies as meddling in its internal affairs.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission is to vote this week on the resolution censuring China, which was backed by the United States as well as Britain and a dozen other European countries.

The mildly worded motion expresses concern over China’s persecution of those who have exercised their freedom of expression or religion, urges the release of political prisoners and calls for improvements in China’s judicial system.

China, backed by other developing countries in the 53-nation commission, is likely to defeat the resolution, as it has similar motions proposed since 1990.

This year, intense lobbying against the motion made significant headway, with Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan and Canada withdrawing their support.

Shen said China welcomes Japan’s decision not to sponsor the motion. ``The Chinese government appreciates this attitude,″ he said.

However, a visit by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to Spain and, later this month, to the United States, has cast a slight pall on the diplomatic coup.

Shen reiterated Beijing’s claim that the Dalai Lama is seeking to divide Tibet from the rest of China.

``He is trying to deceive the world,″ Shen said. ``He is not a true religious figure, he is a splittist engaged in activities designed to divide the nation.″

Update hourly