China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi lashed out at a Canadian journalist for asking about issues of human rights in his country on Wednesday.
“Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance, and I don’t know where that come from. This is totally unacceptable,” Wang said.
Wang was at a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion in Ottawa. His comments came after a journalist from the online news outlet iPolitics asked about China’s treatment of human rights advocates, such as the Hong Kong booksellers.
Wang went on to ask the journalist whether she had been to China.
“Do you know that China has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty? Do you know that China is now the second largest economy in the world from a very low foundation? Do you think that development is possible for China without protection of human rights? Do you know China has written protection of human rights into our constitution?” he said.
He asked the journalist not to ask any “irresponsible” questions. “I have to tell you, the people who know best about China’s human rights is not you, but the Chinese people themselves. You don’t have a say but China has,” he added.
In December last year, Lee Bo, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, went missing. Four other members of staff from the shop, which is known for political gossip titles critical of the Chinese government, also disappeared before reappearing on the mainland saying that they had voluntarily returned to China for investigation.
According to a UN statement in February, about 250 “human rights lawyers, legal assistants, and activists” have been detained in China, although some have since been released.