The State Council, China's cabinet, denounced America on Thursday for what it called rampant violence and widespread discrimination against minorities, especially blacks, in its annual response to the US state department's report on human rights worldwide.

"As in previous years, the state department pointed the finger at human rights situations in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but kept silent on the serious violations of human rights in the United States," the Chinese report said.

Beijing's response came a day after the US said the Chinese government's human rights record "remained poor, and the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses".

Besides China, the US report, which was released on Wednesday, condemned Iran and Syria and called the records of key Arab allies poor or problematic.

The US report, which has been published each year since 1977, said repression in China worsened in 2005, with a trend towards "increased harassment, detention, and imprisonment" of people seen as threats to the government.

It also mentioned tightened controls over print, broadcast and electronic media, and censorship of online content.

China's response

The Chinese response, which drew mostly from reports and statistics in the American press, said the state department report is "an act that fully exposes its hypocrisy and double standards" on human rights issues.

Blacks are given heavier criminal penalties, arrested more frequently and are more likely to be targeted for hate crimes, it said.

The report also accused American troops of committing brutality at prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

China: US troops are committing
brutality at the Guantanamo jail

A large section of the Chinese report was devoted to racial discrimination, which it said had "long been a chronic malady of American society".

It said the country's blacks and other minorities had much lower living standards and incomes and faced job discrimination.

Blacks were also more likely to receive the death penalty for serious crimes, it said.

Since 11 September 2001, the report said, Muslims had been targeted for arrests and detention, "flaunting the banner of 'anti-terrorism'".

"No country in the world can claim to have a perfect state of human rights," the Chinese report said.

"We urge the US government to look squarely at its own human rights problems, reflect what it has done in the human rights field and take concrete measures to improve its own human rights status."

Iran, Syria in focus

In the section on the Middle East, the state department's report said that Iran and Syria were the two countries that should be highlighted as having the worst human-rights problems.

It said conditions in Iran had worsened in 2005 under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Iranian president.

US report: Iran, Syria have the
worst  human-rights problems

It also accused Iran of interference in neighbouring Iraq and of supporting what it called terrorists.

Similar accusations about supporting terrorism were made against Syria.

The report also called the human-rights records of some key Arab allies poor or problematic.

It cited flawed elections and torture of prisoners in Egypt, beatings, arbitrary arrests and a lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, and flogging as punishment for adultery or taking drugs in the United Arab Emirates.

The study calls records in Saudi Arabia and Egypt poor, and the UAE record problematic.

Iraq and Israel

On Iraq, the report said the government's performance was handicapped by the violence and terrorism that has an impact on every aspect of life. It cited increased reports of killings that may have been politically motivated.

In Israel, the report said, the government generally respected the rights of its citizens, but it noted some problems.

Among them, the report said, were "serious abuses by some members of the security forces against Palestinian detainees".

The report also said there was discrimination against the country's Arab citizens and against non-Orthodox Jews.