U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denounced China’s human rights abuses and its response to dissent in an interview published on Tuesday in The Atlantic magazine.

Clinton referred to the crackdown on anti-government protesters in China this year, most likely in reaction to the wave of revolts that have spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Beijing authorities have detained many lawyers, artists and activists in recent months.

They're [Chinese officials] worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand, Clinton told the magazine.

They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long as possible.

The remarks, some of the most potent by a senior US official on the subject, come while the Secretary is meeting in Washington with Chinese leaders during a two-day “Strategic and Economic Dialogue.”

Not surprisingly, China has shrugged off the criticism.

Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said his country has made remarkable progress since 1949, when the Communist state was first established.

I want to stress that the Chinese government is committed to protecting and upholding human rights and we will ensure and protect people's freedom of religious faith in accordance with the law, Zhang told reporters in Washington.

No country including the United States is perfect on the human rights issue. It is only natural for China and the United States to see human rights differently in some aspects. So we call for a dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.”

During the opening ceremony of the US-China strategic meeting, Clinton expressed her concern about human rights in China.

We know over the long arch of history that societies that work toward respecting human rights are going to be more prosperous, stable, and successful, she said to Chinese officials.

That has certainly been proven time and time again, but most particularly in the last months.

However, as the world’s most dynamic economy, China can’t be ignored as a trading partner. Thus, despite her attacks on Chinese human rights violations, she is committed to maintaining strong ties with Beijing.

In the Atlantic interview, she declared: We live in a real world. We don't walk away from dealing with China because we think they have a deplorable human rights record. We don't walk away from dealing with Saudi Arabia.”