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China slams UN human rights chief for 'irresponsible comments'

China's human rights should be viewed in a "comprehensive, objective and rational manner," its UN mission has said. The UN rights chief urged Beijing to ensure transparency for five booksellers believed to be detained.

The Permanent Mission of China to the UN in Geneva has expressed "dissatisfaction" with comments made by Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, regarding Beijing's "clampdown on lawyers and activists."

"The high commissioner made irresponsible comments in disregard of facts, which is sending to the outside world a wrong signal," said a statement from the mission's spokesperson.

"We hope that Mr. Hussein as UN human rights chief could view China's human rights in a comprehensive, objective and rational manner, rather than a biased, subjective and selective way," the statement added.

Earlier Tuesday, Al-Hussein rebuked China for the arrest of "250 human rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists" since last July, calling on authorities to release those still in custody.

"We are seeing a very worrying pattern in China that has serious implications for civil society and the important work they do across the country," al-Hussein said in a statement.

"Civil society actors, from lawyers and journalists to NGO workers, have the right to carry out their work, and it is the states' duty to support and protect them," the UN rights chief added.

'Do not hype up attention'

The UN human rights chief also noted the cases of Lee Bo and Gui Minhai, Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared last year and reappeared in China.

"I urge the government of China to ensure a fair and transparent procedure for these cases," al-Hussein said.

The Chinese mission said Bo was "assisting" in an investigation by mainland authorities, and that he is "in good physical and mental health."

"Lee repeatedly clarified that he voluntarily went back to mainland China for assisting in the investigation, and is safe and sound … Lee hopes that the general public respect his personal choice and privacy and do not hype up attention on the case," the mission said.

"In October 2015, Gui gave himself up to the Chinese police. Gui is also involved in other illegal and criminal activities, his case is complicated and still under further proceedings," the mission noted, adding that three other booksellers were involved in Gui's case.

The disappearance of the five booksellers prompted demonstrations in Hong Kong in January, with protesters demanding their release.

Watch video 00:45

Rally for 'disappeared' Hong Kong booksellers (10.01.2016)

ls/cmk (AP, Reuters)

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