Jan. 27 - Western diplomats criticise Chinese government crackdown on dissents. Julie Noce reports.
Foreign diplomats in Beijing say the government's crackdown on political rights activists is alarming and regretful. Sunday, a court sentenced one of China's most prominent dissidents, Xu Zhiyong, to four years in prison for 'gathering a crowd to disturb public order' after he led a campaign to try and get public officials to disclose their assets and for the rights of rural children to be educated in cities. Monday, diplomats from eight countries were denied entrance to the court proceedings of four more activists who are also being tried. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIRST SECRETARY OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS AT THE EUROPEAN UNION DELEGATION TO CHINA, RAPHAEL DROSZEWSKI, SPEAKING "The EU delegation expressed regret at the sentence of four years against Xu Zhiyong, and we have already expressed deep concern, and these sentences have heightened our concern, on the situation of these people who are persecuted for advocating the rule of law, transparency and social justice." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SECOND SECRETARY OF THE POLITICAL SECTION AT THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN BEIJING, DANIEL DELK, SAYING: "We call on Chinese authorities to release immediately these individuals and remove restrictions on their freedom of movement, guarantee them the protection and freedoms to which they are entitled under Chinese international human rights commitments." After Sunday's ruling, Xu's lawyer was taken away in a police van. Xu's trial was China's highest profile proceeding against a dissident since Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail.