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31july201022Dharamshala: A Chinese delegation to Germany has claimed that its government is on its way to abolishing the death penalty on Chinese soil.

According to the Deutsche Welle news agency, t
he German government's Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, Markus Loening, after a meeting with Chinese representatives in Berlin on July 28, said he had noted that a gradual reduction on executions is under way. The meeting entitled "A dialogue of human rights" had the use of the death penalty as one of its primary themes.

Mr Loening said he was pleased with the first day of talks with the Chinese delegation, which included representatives from various ministries and a high-ranking judge from the Supreme People's Court.

Loening emphasized that the discussions were held in a constructive atmosphere, despite the controversial issues such as the death penalty and criticism of China's frequent use of capital punishment.

"The Chinese delegation said it had the political goal to abolish the death penalty in the end," Loening said. "They did not say when. But we talked about the number of executions and they explained...they've reduced the number of crime types for which the death penalty can be given.

"China has also introduced a type of death penalty where the sentence is suspended for two years. And if no crime is committed within these two years, then the death penalty will be turned into a lifelong sentence. And that obviously has reduced the number executions considerably," he added.

Loening said it was already a clear signal of progress that criticism of selected human rights issues in China, including the treatment of lawyers and minorities, could now be addressed more openly at the forum.

He added that in order to have a constructive dialogue, China deserved some praise for the progress it has made towards granting citizens more social and educational freedoms and rights.

"It's also important to acknowledge the way that China has fought poverty and to acknowledge the way that literacy has spread in China. Some 90% of the Chinese are now able to read and write," Loening said.

"Better access to food, water and housing clearly has been a priority of the government. Hundreds of millions of Chinese have left poverty over the past decades, and that is something that we should not ignore."

But on Friday Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said his country rejects Western standards on human rights. "China is gradually learning and absorbing ideas on human rights that can grow on its soil, and remains opposed to attempts by the West to impose its standards on China," he said.