US increasingly alarmed over deterioration of human rights in China: Official

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A United States official has signaled increasing alarm in the country over the deterioration of human rights in China, saying the topic will be central in an upcoming visit by the Chinese president to Washington.

Delegations of the two world powers met on Thursday and are meeting again Friday in Washington for their annual "Human Rights Dialogue", addressing one of the thorniest issues between the two governments.

"The dialogue gave us a chance to convey in advance of that visit the growing sense of alarm in the United States about human rights developments in China and to stress the importance of making specific improvements in keeping with China's own laws and international commitments," assistant secretary for human rights Tom Malinowski said Thursday, referring to President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit in September.

Mr Malinowski said the dialogue is a chance to hash out tough issues and not "simply agree to disagree".

"The recent deterioration of the human rights situation and the Chinese government's increasing emphasis in its rhetoric and its laws on fighting what it calls, quote, 'cultural infiltration and Western influence' raises serious questions about whether China remains on a long-term path towards greater openness and integration with the world or has begun to turn inward," he said.

An inward trajectory runs counter to the interests of most Chinese and is a major source of concern for the international community, Malinowski said at a briefing after the first day of meetings.

The thorny issue of human rights was at the heart of a strategic dialogue between the two nations in June, and Mr Malinowski said it will be "very prominently addressed" during the Chinese president's visit to the White House.