Published Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 | 9:26 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 | 9:27 p.m.
BEIJING (AP) — The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Beijing has urged China to respect the rights of peaceful political activists and says Washington is deeply concerned about the fate of a minority scholar charged with separatism.
Gary Locke made the call at his final news conference as ambassador Thursday following a 2 ½ year tenure that included two serious diplomatic crises as well as a major expansion of trade and travel links.
Locke says Washington is very concerned about the case of Ilham Tohti, an outspoken advocate for the Uighur Muslim minority who was formally arrested on Tuesday. Locke says China should value not just the economic welfare of its people, but also their freedom of speech, assembly and religion.
China's communist government routinely criticizes such remarks as interference in its internal politics.