AMNESTY International has hit out at Beijing claims that steps have been taken to stop torture - and insists that it is widespread and systematic in China. A week before a group of United Nations experts scrutinise China's record on torture, the London-based human rights watchdog has urged the Chinese Government to bring in fundamental reforms to stop the abuses. The 10-member UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), which monitors how countries implement international obligations on torture, will meet in Geneva to review reports from China and seven other countries. China voluntarily ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1988 and sent its first report to the CAT in December 1989. But dissatisfied UN experts asked Beijing to answer more than 90 questions in an additional report. Beijing submitted its additional report last year. But Amnesty International said: ''The additional report provides little new information and is very similar to the first report examined in 1990.'' The human rights body said the additional report failed to explain how existing legal provisions aimed at prohibiting torture ''are implemented in practice''. Beijing claims that cases of torture are ''scrupulously investigated and the perpetrators punished''. But Amnesty International said: ''Well-documented evidence shows this claim to be largely false.'' The group said information received in the past few years suggested that torture has become endemic in places of detention in China and far more widespread than it was 10 years ago. Amnesty International claimed that continuing government campaigns to crush crime and political opposition during the past decade has led to a rise in abuses in detention centres. Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners is fostered by law enforcement practices and a justice system which denies prisoners some of the most fundamental human rights, the group said. And they criticised Beijing's failure to take any steps to review laws and practices which are ''at the basis of many human rights violations, including torture''. Amnesty International urged Beijing to adopt effective measures to meet the requirements of the UN Convention Against Torture.