updated 6/6/2005 3:26:38 AM ET 2005-06-06T07:26:38

China rejected a U.S. appeal to account for prisoners still detained after the violent 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement and to re-examine its official verdict on the protests.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on Sunday said China opposes U.S. efforts to use human rights as an excuse to “interfere with other countries’ internal affairs,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

A State Department spokesman said Saturday that as many as 250 people were still in prison for Tiananmen-related activities and called on Beijing to account for them.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called on Beijing to “fully account for the thousands killed, detained, or missing, and to release those unjustly imprisoned.”

McCormack said China also should “move forward with a re-examination of Tiananmen, and give its citizens the ability to flourish by allowing them to think, speak, assemble and worship freely.”

Kong insisted that Chinese leaders “took decisive measures” in 1989 that “successfully maintained the general situation of reform and development.”

China regularly rejects appeals by activists and families of those killed in the crackdown to reverse its ruling that the nonviolent protests were a counterrevolutionary riot that had to be crushed.

Kong repeated official arguments that the crackdown was justified because it laid the basis for the country’s rapid economic development over the past 16 years.

Kong said the United States should pay more attention to its own human rights violations.

“Kong asked the United States for a better governance on its own affairs, suggesting it pay more attention to activities which ‘severely violated’ human rights in its own country,” Xinhua said.

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