China has told the US to stop preaching on human rights, after the state department's annual report on the issue criticised China.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the US should concentrate on its own rights issues and stop interfering.
Chinese authorities have launched a major crackdown on dissent recently.
Unveiling the report, US officials expressed particular concern over the recent arrest of the artist Ai Weiwei, an outspoken critic of the government.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also highlighted reports of other intellectuals and activists being "arbitrarily detained" in recent weeks.
Mr Hong said China was happy to talk about rights "on the basis of equality and mutual respect", but added that Beijing "resolutely opposes" meddling in other country's affairs.
"We advise the US side to reflect on its own human rights issues and not to position itself as a preacher of human rights," he said.
"[The US should] stop using the issue of human rights reports to interfere in other countries' internal affairs."
The state department's annual report criticising China, followed swiftly by a tough riposte from Beijing, is now a well-established diplomatic ritual.
But analysts say this year's tit-for-tat exchange has been sharpened by Beijing's crackdown on dissent.
The US report accused Beijing of stepping up restrictions on lawyers, activists, bloggers and journalists.
The Communist rulers were also accused of tightening controls on civil society and stepping up efforts to control the press and internet access.
Source: BBC News