China has published a scathing attack on the human rights situation in the United States, retaliating for a similar report issued by Washington last week that accused Beijing of backsliding on its rights record.
Only days after slamming the US report as "interference in its internal affairs," the State Council, China's cabinet, countered with its own criticism.
Allegations of US atrocities in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan led the way.
"In recent years, the United States has practiced unilateralism on the international stage, wantonly engaged in military adventures, violently invaded the sovereignty of other nations and left the mark of rights violations everywhere," the 2003 US Rights Violation Record said.
"Since the United States initiated the war on Iraq, 16,000 Iraqis have been killed including 10,000 citizens," the report said.
With a 400 billion dollar defense budget, US defense spending is bigger than military expenditures of the rest of the world combined, while the United States is the world's biggest seller of arms.
It was responsible for more than 48 percent of all conventional weapons sales to the developing world in 2002, the report said.
Rights violations were not only restricted to the 364,000 soldiers Washington has based in more than 130 countries, the report said, but also occurred at home where the United States remains one of the world's most violent places to live.
"The United States leads the world in gun ownership, guns are everywhere and crimes involving guns are on the rise," it said.
Of the 15,980 murders committed in the United States in 2001, 63 percent involved guns, while 56 percent, or 16,586 people, who committed suicide in the US in 2000 used guns, it said.
The report also soundly blasted the US Patriot Act which has empowered the government to violate the rights and freedom of ordinary citizens, most notably American minorities, "in the name of national security and fighting terrorism," it said.
Despite routinely refusing to accept criticisms on rights abuses in China from groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the Chinese report liberally used documentation by such groups on US rights violations.
"According to a Human Rights Watch report in September 2003, one fifth of men in US prisons faced violent and dangerous sexual encounters, while one in 10 were raped," the report said.
The report also cited Amnesty for evidence that police brutality in US jails led to the deaths of at least three prisoners in 2003.
The report further slammed US democratic politics as the politics of the rich and cited the 113 million dollars spent by George W. Bush's election campaign in 2000 and the projected 200 million dollars for this year's presidential elections.
It also blasted the US social welfare network and cited the growing numbers of poor and homeless people.
"The richest one percent of the US have wealth that is equal to the 40 percent of the poorest people in the country," it said.
"While the income of the richest one percent was only 7.5 percent of all income earned in 1979, it was 15.5 percent in 2000."
On Thursday China expressed "indignation" at the US report which alleged a worsening human rights situation in China in 2003.
The annual State Department report accused China's communist leaders of letting their human rights record slip as arrests of democracy activists and extrajudicial killings continued apace.
Also targeted were labor protesters, defense lawyers, journalists, house church members and "others seeking to take advantage of the space created by reforms", according to the US report.
The report also said a "harsh repression" of the Falungong spiritual group continued, that China's record in Tibet remained poor and that the government had used the war on terror to justify a crackdown against Muslim Uighurs.
Copyright 2003 AFP