WASHINGTON: US Republican Senator Marco Rubio mounted a fierce criticism of China Thursday as it named its new president, saying the Asian giant tortures its citizens, uses forced labor and is bent on global superiority.
Rubio, a rising political star seen as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, offered his critique at the conservative policy conference CPAC, where he said communist Beijing's goal was to surpass US influence.
"While we are bickering (about budget and tax and spending policies), there is a nation trying to supplant us as the leading power in the world," Rubio warned.
The government of China, which has the world's second largest economy, bars people from accessing the Internet, holds citizens "prisoner without any right to recourse" and pressures other governments to forcibly return Chinese who flee their homeland, according to Rubio.
"The Chinese government coerces and tortures people until they get confessions from them," he said.
"The Chinese government has coercive birth limitation policies, which means that in some cases, they are forcing abortions and sterilizations. The Chinese government uses forced labor -- and this is what they do to their own people.
"We want that to be the leading country in the world? We want that to be the leading voice on this planet?" he asked the CPAC crowd.
"That's what is at stake in America's greatness."
Rubio's comments came on the same day China's parliament named Xi Jinping as president, four months after he took charge of the Communist Party with pledges of reform that have raised hopes but so far yielded little change.