China on Friday denounced the US for calling Venezuela's entry into the UN Human Rights Council "a tragedy", after the South American country won a seat despite criticism from advocacy groups.
The leftist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has jailed opposition leaders and is accused of using torture and arbitrary arrests as it struggles to hold on to power amid a collapsing economy.
More than 50 countries have switched their recognition to national assembly speaker Juan Guaido as the country's legitimate acting president, including the United States.
But Maduro still has strong support at the UN, from Russia and China in particular.
"What the US said is utterly unjustifiable," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
The election result "reflects the mainstream wishes of international society -- it is reasonable and lawful," he told reporters at a press briefing in Beijing.
"We advise the US not to...politicise the human rights issue," he added.
The comments came as rights groups condemned Thursday's election as a slap in the face to the people of Venezuela and the international community.
The election saw Caracas win one of two seats alloted for Latin America -- beating Costa Rica -- which the US called "an embarrassment to the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela."