It’s questionable that President George W. Bush will be favourite partner of China after he met with with a prominent Muslim activist who is an outspoken critic of China's rule in the far western Xinjiang region.
Bush met exiled Chinese activist, Rebiya Kadeer, on the sidelines of a conference on democracy in Prague after praising her in a speech.
"As everyone knows, Rebiya is a convicted criminal," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news conference. "The relevant activities and actions of the U.S. side constitute a blatant interference in China's internal affairs and we express our strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to that."
Kadeer, once a prominent businesswoman, served six years in a Chinese prison on charges of endangering state security. Since going into exile in the United States in 2005, she has become a fierce critic of Chinese treatment of the Uighurs, Turkic-speaking Muslims who once dominated Xinjiang, the Central Asia border province. Beijing has waged a suppression campaign against Uighur secessionism.
Ahead of his meeting with her, Bush praised Kadeer and called the recent jailing of her sons by China retaliation for her activism.
"Another dissident I will meet here is Rebiya Kadeer of China, whose sons have been jailed in what we believe is an act of retaliation for her human rights activities," Bush said during a speech at the Czernin Palace in Prague.
"America calls on every nation that stifles dissent to end its repression, to trust its people and to grant its citizens the freedom they deserve," Bush said.
In the same speech, Bush also criticized China for opening up its economy "without opening its political system."
Jiang didn't directly address the remark when asked for comment. She said only that for the past nearly 30 years "China has enjoyed economic development, social stability and important development of democracy and the legal system."
"The people of China enjoy various kinds of human rights and freedoms in accordance with the law," she said.
In April, Kadeer's son Ablikim Abdureyim was sentenced by a court in Urumqi city to nine years in prison for what the state-run Xinhua News Agency said was "instigating and engaging in secessionist activities.
Abdureyim's two brothers were convicted of tax evasion last year.
Beijing blames Uighur separatists for sporadic bombings and other violence. The government says the separatists are linked to al-Qaida, but diplomats and foreign experts doubt that.