China's Foreign Ministry has rejected an international appeal for the release of five detained women's rights activists, accusing those critics of violating its judicial sovereignty.

Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Wednesday that no one had the right to make such demands of China.

Both the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and the European Union issued statements strongly criticizing the detentions and calling for the women's release. Rights groups have issued similar appeals.

The five have been held in a Beijing detention center for almost three weeks, accused of creating a disturbance for planning to display posters raising awareness of sexual harassment in three Chinese cities to mark International Women's Day on March 8.

Beijing police have not responded to requests for information about the cases.