In its annual report on the status of human rights around the world, the department also found fault with the record of two close allies, Colombia and Israel, as they tried to deal with civil conflict.
On the plus side, the report said there were rights gains in Yugoslavia, Mexico Nigeria, Ghana, and in Eritrea and Ethiopia, where a two-year war ended.
"The year saw a number of advances in human rights, democracy, and fundamental freedoms," it said.
The report said in China thousands of unregistered religious institutions had been either closed or destroyed by year's end, and hundreds of leaders of the Falun Gong spiritual sect had been imprisoned.
"Thousands of others remained in detention or were sentenced to reeducation-through-labor camps, or incarcerated in mental institutions," the report said. It also said there was an intensified crackdown in Tibet during the year.
Despite these setbacks, the report said, "many Chinese had more individual choice, greater access to information, and expanded economic opportunity" as Marxist ideology continued to give way to economic pragmatism.
The report also issued a highly critical report on the rights situation in Colombia, whose president Andres Pastrana, will meet with President George W. Bush on Tuesday.
It said government security forces "continued to commit serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings."
"Despite some prosecutions and convictions, the authorities rarely brought higher-ranking officers of the security forces and the police charged with human rights offenses to justice, and impunity remains a problem," the report said.
"Members of the security forces collaborated with paramilitary groups that committed abuses, in some instances allowing such groups to pass through roadblocks, sharing information, or providing them with supplies or ammunition."
At the same time the report said, "Paramilitary groups and guerrillas were responsible for the vast majority of political and other killings during the year. "
In Israel, the report said security forces used "excessive force" to disperse demonstrations that coincided with the outbreak of violence in the occupied territories, killing 13 Arab citizens and injuring over 300.
In the occupied territories, Israeli security "committed numerous serious human rights abuses during the year," the report said.
It said security forces killed 307 Palestinians in 2000 along with foreign nationals and injured at least 11,300 Palestinians and other persons during the year.
"Israeli security forces targeted for killing a number of Palestinians whom the Israeli Government stated had attacked or were planning future attacks oIsraeli settlements or military targets," it said.
It said the overall human rights record of the Palestinian Authority was poor, and worsened in several areas during 2000 mainly due to the sustained violence that began in late September.
"Members of Palestinian security services and Fatah's Tanzim participated in violent attacks. Armed Palestinians, some of them members of Palestinian security forces, fired at Israeli civilians or soldiers from within or close to the homes of Palestinian civilians."
The report had the following assessments of other countries:
©MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed