China bristled Thursday over Western reports that prominent dissidents have been charged with major political crimes, berating the West for "inappropriate" concern over China's human-rights situation.

"I think it is inappropriate to interfere in developing countries' internal affairs with the excuse of human rights," Foreign Ministry spokesman Li Zhaoxing said.Li was responding to a question as to whether Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen would discuss human-rights issues during his meeting in Washington this weekend with President George Bush.

Qian's U.S. visit, tied to the U.S.-led campaign to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait, is the most overt breach to date of U.S. sanctions imposed after the 1989 Beijing massacre that crushed China's democracy movement.

But Li sidestepped the question and launched instead into a diatribe against "some people in the West and in press circles" for focusing on what many in the West regard as an abysmal human-rights record in China.

"I don't understand why you aren't interested in so many other issues taking place in Chinese society," Li told reporters.

Li's remarks appeared to be a calculated response to recent Western press reports that a group of dissidents pegged as core agitators in the 1989 Tiananmen Spring democracy movement have been charged with counterrevolution or sedition.