WASHINGTON — President Hu Jintao denied Thursday that China was forcing women to submit to abortions under its controversial one-child policy, a US lawmaker said after meeting him on his state visit.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the new Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a staunch critic of China's leaders, said she handed Hu a detailed list of human rights concerns at a meeting.
"Out of all of the issues I raised, the only one which received a response from Mr Hu was my statement urging the end of China's forced abortion policy," the Florida lawmaker said after the meeting.
"I was astonished when he insisted that such a policy does not exist."
China, under a 1980 policy designed to control its population, permits most couples to bear only one child.
Blind activist Chen Guangcheng was jailed in 2006 after accusing officials in one area alone of forcing sterilizations or abortions on at least 7,000 women.
Republican Representative Chris Smith, who strongly opposes abortion, has campaigned for years against China's one-child policy, which he said has "killed millions of innocent lives" and inflicted deep trauma on women.
"The Chinese government's one-child-per-couple policy, with its attendant horrors of forced abortion campaigns and rampant sex-selective abortion, is, in scope and seriousness, the worst human rights abuse -- the worst gender crime -- in the world today," Smith told reporters ahead of Hu's visit.
Ros-Lehtinen said she also pressed China to free dissidents including Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng, to respect the rights of the Tibetan and Uighur minorities and to "end the persecution" of underground Christians and members of the Falungong spiritual movement.
Ros-Lehtinen said China was showing it was not "a responsible actor" and called for a robust US policy toward the Asian giant.
"The US and China do not share values and principles, as some have claimed in recent days," she said.
Hu is paying a state visit at the invitation of President Barack Obama, whose Democratic Party was trounced by the Republicans in November elections.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »