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China shows off prison and rights record ahead of leadership transition

Published on Oct 25, 2012 6:31 PM
Police guards stand in a hallway inside the No.1 Detention Center during a government guided tour in Beijing on October 25, 2012. The rare visit to the facility, which has capacity for 1,000 inmates, was opened to the foreign media as Beijing prepares for the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China gave foreign journalists rare access to a prison on Thursday in an attempt to show progress in improving human rights ahead of the country's leadership change.

Rows of police officers greeted busloads of reporters on the eastern outskirts of Beijing before a limited and carefully controlled tour of the 1,000-person capacity No. 1 Detention Centre and its 200-bed hospital.

It is "very good to improve the transparency of our work so that the international community can see more clearly the actual situation here in China of public security supervision and law enforcement", said Mr Zhao Chunguang, the director of detention supervision, in a welcome address.

Outside, the centre for pre-trial prisoners and convicts serving short sentences looked menacing with concrete walls, barbed wire and watchtowers.

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