ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:
During two days of talks about human rights with China last week, the US raised examples of problems on its own soil and cited Arizona's controversial new immigration law as an example of "racial discrimination."
“We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session and as a troubling trend in our society, and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination. And these are issues very much being debated in our own society,” Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, who led the US delegation to the talks, told reporters on Friday.
That the US mentioned the Arizona law during talks about human rights with China, consistently ranked among the worst human rights violators in the world, has raised the ire of some conservatives who see the US as apologizing for the law to a country that persecutes its own dissidents and minorities.
“China murdered millions of its citizens who opposed the government's Communist policies and allows most of its people little or no freedom. We, on the other hand, enforce our immigration laws. No, wait--actually we don't. That's why Arizona had to take a shot at it,” the conservative blog Powerline wrote on Sunday.
The Arizona immigration law requires law enforcement to inquire about an individual’s immigration status if there is suspicion they are in the country illegally. Supporters of the law say it will weed out illegal immigrants and help secure the border. Opponents say it opens the door to racial profiling. The Obama administration has come out against the law; President Obama has called it “misguided.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to China later this week for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Posner said Friday he will take part in those meetings as well. He said the US and China will hold talks on human rights again next year.
Speaking earlier on Friday morning the US Ambassador to China, and former Republican governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman said that the talks on human rights were difficult but a sign of improved relations between countries that have had strained relations in the past year over US arms sales to Taiwan, internet freedom and cyber attacks, and trade disputes.
"We're talking about issues that are uncomfortable, quite frankly, but it is a sign of maturity that we can talk about specific cases," Huntsman said.