The no-action motion passed by 23 votes to 17. There were 12 abstentions and 1 absentee.
"With this vote Beijing strengthens its hand," said Joanna Weschler, a representative for New York-based Human Rights Watch. "It can continue and intensify its crackdown on basic freedoms, without any consequences internationally."
The head of the U.S. delegation, Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, told reporters after the vote: "We urge China to respond to the concerns raised about its human rights situation during the commission session and to move quickly to bring its human rights practices into compliance with its obligations under international human rights instruments."
The U.S. official also said "as we have stated many times we are deeply concerned by the worsening human rights situation in China ... the commission is the world's preeminent forum for human rights and is the most appropriate place to raise the concerns."
Before the vote, Beijing's top envoy, Ambassador Qiao Zonghuai, shouted at U.N. representatives, "In the eyes of some U.S. politicians, China's success is an open challenge to their model of democracy, their way of development and their human rights criteria, which is intolerable to them who are bloated with racial supremacy."
In a hectoring style, which some Western diplomats said was reminiscent of Cold War diplomacy, Qiao added: "By tabling anti-China resolutions, these politicians dream of destabilizing China and of forcing the Chinese people to abandon their rightly chosen path to development. They also wish to throw hurdles in China's development and progress and put China in a state of perpetual backwardness."
A Western European ambassador, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told United Press International that China was turning the commission "into a spectacle."
"That's very bad for human rights" the ambassador added.
Qiao also told delegates the U.S. draft contained "slanderous accusations" that do not represent the "progress" being made in China's human rights scene every year, and said the "U.S. standards of human rights are nothing more than double standards and political standards."
"In today's world, there does exist a country practicing hegemony and seeking special treatment everywhere by resorting to its power," Qiao said.
Meanwhile, a number of ambassadors from Asian and African countries, which have human rights problems of their own and were largely allied with China, said there was "nothing terribly surprising about the outcome."
One envoy attributed the favorable result for China to year-round diplomacy by Beijing on human rights issues, and a fair number of "sympathy" votes for China by countries formerly under colonial rule.
Diplomats also dismissed claims by some human rights groups that the Bush administration left the issue for too late in the day to garner support for its draft China resolution. "Ambassadors were called in Washington and the Americans also lobbied in capitals, and we got the message they were serious," said one ambassador.
A number of veteran envoys said the change in the composition of the commission, which this year included Libya and Syria, and the change of administration in Washington placed the U.S. team at a disadvantage when trying to rally support.
European Union members of the commission, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, along with Canada and Japan, sided with the Unites States. However, close U.S. ally South Korea abstained, as did a number of major Latin American powers, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, while Russia, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria backed China.
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