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US condolences to family of deceased Chinese activist

US Secretary of State John Kerry during a discussion with Chinese bloggers on a number of issues, including internet freedom and human rights, in Beijing on February 15, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry during a discussion with Chinese bloggers on a number of issues, including internet freedom and human rights, in Beijing on February 15, 2014

The United States on Saturday offered condolences to the family of a Chinese activist who died while in detention and urged Beijing to respect human rights.

"The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that rights activist Cao Shunli has passed away at a hospital in Beijing. We offer our condolences to her family," said a statement from US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

"We continue to be concerned about the human rights situation in China and will continue to urge Chinese authorities to guarantee all Chinese citizens the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China's international human rights commitments," Psaki added.

Rights groups said Cao died on Friday after falling critically ill in police detention, where she was at first denied treatment.

She had joined a rare protest outside China's foreign ministry in June last year to demand greater participation in the UN's review of human rights in China, according to Amnesty International and other rights groups.

Cao was set to travel to Switzerland for a UN Human Rights Council review last September, but police detained her at Beijing's international airport, her lawyer Wang Yu told AFP previously.

She became seriously ill and her condition worsened after she was refused medical care, he said.

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