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Development of China's Human Rights Cause
2009/10/27

 

 

The year 2009 is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In the 60 years, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people engaged in the socialist construction and have made great progress in this regard. In late 1978, China launched the reform and opening-up program. In the 30 years thereafter, China broke the planned economic system which China followed in the first 30 years, and has established the socialist market economic system. Also in the 30 years, China opened wider to foreign investment and trade. Today, China has become a part of the world economic and political system. Alongside the rapid development of the national economy over the past 60 years, especially during the 30 years of the reform and opening-up, China has grown into the world's forth largest economy and the world's third largest trading nation, having more foreign exchange reserve than any other country in the world. he founding of New China, and especial the introduction of the reform and opening-up program, realized the century-old dream of the Chinese to become one of the strongest in the world. With the fast socio-economic development over the past 60 years, China has made a historic jump in its human rights cause.

 

I. Progress made in the human rights cause finds expression in the following aspects:

 

(I) Higher Quality of Life

China's national economy has during the reform and opening-up been developing at an annual average rate of 9.8 percent. The per-capita GDP rose from 381 Yuan in 1978 to 18,934 Yuan in 2007. Allowing for the price hike factor, it means a 10-fold increase, averaging an annual increase of 8.6 percent. The national revenue rose from US$190 per capita to more than US$2,000 per capita. China has basically solved the food and clothing problem, the Chinese lead a well-off life, and China as a whole is marching into an affluent society. In the meantime, China has made historic breakthrough in wiping out poverty and improving the basic living conditions for people in the poverty-stricken areas. In the first 30 years, China had 250 million people in absolute poverty. In 2007, however, the figure dropped to 14.79 million. According to the UN and the World Bank, two-thirds of the poverty-stricken people lifted out of poverty in the past 25 years are found in China. Hence China's efforts in this regard are highly applauded in the international community.

 

(II) Fast Socio-Economic Development

The past 60 years saw more job opportunities created in China. In 2007, some 769.9 million people are employed, an increase of more than 100 percent over that of 1978. Education develops apace, with the 9-year compulsory education provided throughout the country. In 2007, some 18.85 million people were studying in schools of higher learning, an increase of 22 times over that of 1978. Public health sees remarkable progress and the Chinese enjoy good health. The number of doctors and hospital beds available for every 1,000 people is in the higher than medium level among developing countries. China's life expectancy rose from 67.8 years in 1981 to 73 years in 2005. With further improvement in the social security system, more than 50 million people enjoy allowances for minimum level of life.

 

(III) Expanded Political Rights

The political democratic system with Chinese characteristics improves with each passing day in the past 60 years. There has been improvement in the People's Congress system and regular and competitive elections are held as a system. And the multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the CPC and the political consultative system play an increasingly important role. The broad masses of the people exercise the right to know, to supervise, to vote and to stand for election. Grassroots democracy expands and members of the village committees are elected directly. Democratic election, democratic management, democratic decision making, and democratic supervision have become the basic mode for people exercise their political rights.

 

(IV) Strengthened Rule of Law, Legislation and Other Legal Rights

China has in the past 60 years been making efforts to strengthen construction of rule of law, having enacted more than 800 national laws and some 7,500 local rules and regulations. A socialist legal framework has taken shape in the main. Many of these laws and regulations are related to human rights. For instance, the 2004 Amendment to the PRC Constitution includes the stipulation to the effect that the State respects and guarantees human rights. The 1996 Amendment to the Criminal Law was added with the principle of presumption of innocence. The State restored the lawyer system which has been constantly improved. In 2007 there are more than 130,000 licensed lawyers in the country. Courts at various levels follow the public trial principle featuring public filing, open-door session and outcome announced publicly as well as public supervision over enforcement.

 

(V) Ethnic Minorities Enjoy Equal Rights and Interests and Guaranteed Special Interests

China introduces the policy of national regional autonomy to certain regions where ethnic minorities are found to live concentratedly. This makes it possible for ethnic minorities to enjoy equal rights to handle their own affairs. They have the freedom to use and develop their own languages, develop traditional culture and customs and habits, and enjoy respect for their freedom of religious belief. People of the ethnic minority groups are leading a better life and the number of people in absolute poverty has been greatly decreased.

 

(VI) Progress Made in Human Rights Theory Study

China began to research into the human rights theory as soon as the reform and opening-up program was introduced in late 1978. Today, much progress has been made in this regard. In the 1990s, China began to organize a research team composed of professional from the China Society for Human Rights Studies as well as the schools of higher learning and research institutions in various parts of the country. During this period of time, a great number of foreign works on human rights were translated into Chinese, and research papers compiled into study materials. Meanwhile, hundreds of books and thousands of papers on human rights study have been published, and efforts made to publicize knowledge about human rights among the public.

 

(VII) Constant Progress in Foreign Exchange and Cooperation on Human Rights

Prior to the reform and opening-up, China seldom took part in international activities of on human rights. However, since the late 1978, China has become a major state Party member state in international cooperation on human rights. Thus far, it has joined There are 25 international conventions on human rights, in which China has participated, such as including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR). And meanwhile China is working hard to join examining for approval of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. China, as a state member state of the in UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council, has been positive in UN activities of on human rights led by the UN. China also keeps maintains a sound cooperative relation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN departments concerned. China respectively conducts dialogue on human rights with Australia, Canada, Britain, the EU, Germany, and the United States, etc, this ; so as to help strengthen mutual understanding, reduce divergence, and expand common ground. As a major member among the NGO non-governmental organization of the United Nations, which enjoys the position as a consultant, the China Society for Human Rights Studies engages in wide exchanges and cooperation with relevant UN departments and foreign human rights organizations.

Although much has been achieved in this regard human rights, there remain are still some problems and difficulties. That has to be overcome. For example, It still needs improvement in the political and economic systems, and democracy and legal system have yet to be further improved, politics, economy, democracy and legal system. There is also unbalanced and the socio-economic development is uneven between town and county the urban and rural areas, , or among regions. As well are found some there also exist problems in employment, education, medical care, housing, social security, distribution of income, safety in production, and environment protection. The Chinese Government announces the existence of does not evade these problems, and promises but rather promises publicly to deal with them solve these problems by growth through social and economy economic development and constant improvement in democracy and legal system. However, some countries in the Western adopt a double standard in the field of human rights, and always accuse China and other developing countries of human rights violation. However, they turn a blind eye to their own problems on human rights.

 

II. In the past 60 years, China has embarked onto a road to human rights with distinct Chinese characteristics.

 

China is working to guarantee human rights in a way obviously different from that of the countries in the West. Firstly, China considers that any rights including human rights are not absolute and the rights shall be equated with the matching obligation. There are not rights without obligation and vice versa. Some rights for some people may mean obligation for the others and vice versa. China opposes to separate rights from obligation. Secondly, China thinks that human rights include not only civil rights and political rights, but also rights in aspects of economic and social development, and culture. These rights are interrelated and complementary to each other. With good civil rights and political rights, there would be no good rights to social and economic development and culture. What had happened in China testifies to its truth. The past 60 years saw the Chinese people lead an increasingly better life, the social security system improve with each passing day, and medicare, education, and cultural undertakings develop in an all-round way. It is fact that all human rights as listed in international conventions, such as civil rights and political rights, develop remarkably during this period of time, and the Chinese people enjoy democracy and the basic human rights which they never better enjoyed in history, such as the right to freedom of religious belief and rights to manage government affairs. The civil rights and political rights develop at a fast rate also enjoyed by the right to social and economic development and culture.

China believes that the right to development is a basic human right indispensable for human beings. Every person or every country has right to achieve development and to enjoy the development fruit. In the world today, however, there are still dozens of least developed countries that have not been involved in the global development; over 1 billion people in the world are suffering from prolonged starvation or in a state of poverty; and some 11 million children in the world could only live five years, and 3 million people die of AIDS. The right to development is of utmost importance for them. How to solve these problems are much discussed among most developing countries, and is also a big challenge to human rights in the world as only development could lay a good foundation for the full realization of such human rights. Only with economic and social development, could starvation and poverty be eliminated, the basic needs for medicare be enjoyed, and other human rights be realized. China thinks so because people's value, dignity and personal freedom are out of the question if they suffer from starvation and poverty.

China also regards the right to security as a basic human right. Security is a living state without fear. Every person has right to enjoy a peaceful life, but there are kinds of menace against people's security including international war, conflict, domestic violence, crime, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, poverty, fatal infection, and worsening environment. In addition, poverty, fatal contagious diseases and worsening environment are also threatening the life of the people. It has been the common wish of the people to maintain peace and security by reducing such threats, and this is also a human right target that the international community is working hard to realize. The right to security constitutes the basis for people to enjoy other human rights, as fear caused by threats will limit the scope of freedom. Only when there is peace and security will the people enjoy real personal freedom. so, the right to security is closely linked with human right. The two promote each other. Without development, there would be no security, without security, the people would not be able to enjoy benefits of development, and, if we do not respect human rights, we would not be able to enjoy social peace and stability and enjoy benefits of development would be out of the question.

China holds that human rights include individual human rights as well as collective rights and interests, and collective human rights. Individual and collective human rights are complementary to each other. If individuals fail to enjoy human rights, there would be no collective human rights; and the collective human rights are indispensable for the individuals to enjoy human rights. Only when the society is fully developed can individual human rights be realized. China attaches importance to individual and collective human rights. This is a major reason why China enjoys social stability and harmony and the Chinese people enjoy democracy.

China thinks it is a common objective to create a world where people could enjoy basic human rights. Achievement of the goal needs efforts made by governments and peoples of various countries, as well as close international cooperation which is a good way for the international human rights to be promoted. In the field of human rights, China advocates further efforts be made to strengthen exchanges and cooperation, promote mutual understanding, reduce differences, and expand common ground. For the development of international human rights cause, various countries in the world should be tolerant toward and show respect for others, and learn from each other. China is willing to conduct exchanges and cooperation with other countries in the field of human rights in a more extensive and profound way, and learn good experience from them in better developing China's human rights cause. China supports the aims and principles with regard to protecting human rights as specified in the UN Charters, strongly supporting the effort to make human rights, security and development the three "pillars" of the United Nations. China takes an active part in the work of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and insists that the Commission should work for dialogue and wipe out possible confrontations. Moreover, China is active in establishing the UN Human Rights Council, and positive in working out its rules and regulations. China often attends various conferences of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and participates in discussing issues related to human rights, putting forward views with a strong sense of responsibility to enrich the content of human rights, optimize methods for the better protection of human rights and promote the international cooperation in the field of human rights. What China has done shows that the human rights undertaking is a great cause to promote peace, security, and development. China will make its own contribution to the sound development of international human rights cause, and join hands with people across the world to work for a better future in this field.

 

III

 

Over the past 60 years since the founding of the New China, especially the past 30 years since the adoption of reform and opening up, the Chinese Government and people, overcoming difficulties and proceeding from our practice, have made efforts to explore the new mode of developing human rights in the backward developing countries. China has made great achievements and accumulated rich experience in the human rights undertaking.

 

First, developing human rights cause with distinct Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC. With regard to the human rights development, we must uphold the leadership by the CPC, and proceeding from China's realities, explore a path to promote human rights development, which is suitable to China's conditions, without following like sheep and copying the western modes. Deng Xiaoping pointed out what China guaranteed is the human rights of a great many people. He said, "What are human rights; the first is how many people are they meant for; and whether these rights belong to the minority, to the majority or to all the people in the world?" Jiang Zemin pointed out that safeguarding the fundamental interests of the majority of people is China's starting point with regard to the human rights issue and that safeguarding people's rights to survival and development is the all-important and maximal human rights guarantee. He said, "As for China, a developing country with a population of 1.2 billion, its national conditions must be first considered in promoting and protecting human rights, therefore China gives priority to developing economy and solving the problem of providing enough food and clothing to its people." Hu Jintao pointed out that in developing human rights cause in China, we should put people first and endeavor to build the harmonious society. He said, "To put people on top of our priority list is to take the comprehensive development of man as our objective, uphold the fundamental interests of the people, meet their rising material and cultural needs, safeguard people's economic, political and cultural rights and interests, and ensure that they reap the benefits of development." "The socialist harmonious society should be a society featuring the democracy and the rule of law, equity and justice, honesty and fraternity, vigor and vitality, stability and order, and harmony between man and nature." These elucidations of Chinese leaders summarize the basic connotation of the road of China's human rights development, thus showing clear the direction for China's human rights development.

 

Second, promoting human rights development through reform. Reform is conducted to alter the economic, political and other social management system hindering the productivity development and to liberate and improve the productivity, thus realizing the freedom and all-round development of human. The basic direction for China's 30 years' reform is to increase the degree of freedom in various fields of society and expand public participation in it, safeguard the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of people, and realize the value and dignity of them. From this point of view, reform constitutes the basic driving force for the human rights development. The history of China's 60 years of human rights development proves that only by constantly carrying out reform, can the human rights develop continuously. Economic reform has pushed forward the rapid development of China's economy. On the one hand, this has laid substantial foundation for human rights development, and on the other hand, it has directly promoted the development of economic, social and cultural rights. The focus of China's political restructuring is on expanding people's democracy and pushing forward the building of a socialist country under the rule of law. Actually this is to develop basic human rights.

 

Third, developing the human rights in the course of opening to the outside world. The history of China's development demonstrates China cannot develop without the world, and that a closed-door policy would hinder development. Opening up to the outside world is the only way to develop China's economy. Over the past 60 years since the founding of the New China, especially the past 30 years since the adoption of reform and opening up, China's human rights undertaking has witnessed rapid development in the national overall pattern of opening to the outside world. We develop the human rights by carrying wide interactive exchange with the other countries in the world. Against the backdrop of China joining the international community in an all-round way, we have gradually established and improved our own human rights theory and human rights guarantee system by drawing on a great deal of helpful human rights ideas and human rights guarantee system from other countries in the world. China has participated in more UN activities in the field of human rights, becoming an active member in the international human rights cause. This has in turn promoted the development of domestic human rights.

 

Fourth, developing the human rights under the condition of social stability. Social and political stability constitutes the basis for economic development, as well as the basis for human rights development. At all times and in all over the world, no country would go all out for economic development during the social turmoil, no country would make its people live and work in peace and contentment and fully enjoy the human rights either. Over the past 60 years since the founding of the New China, especially the past 30 years since the adoption of reform and opening up, China has always given priority to keeping the society stable, dealt with the relations between reform, development and stability in a proper way, paid high attention to coordinated interests with regard to various sectors, and kept the society stable for a long time. It is under the condition of social stability that China's human rights have seen sound development. At the same time, human rights development has promoted the social stability.

 

Fifth, Safeguarding the human rights on the track of rule of law and pulling off the human rights guarantee under the rule of law. Human rights cannot separate from the rule of law, while the rule of law is the inevitable demands of human rights development. Human rights guarantee involves all the people and permeates into various aspects of social life, therefore some problems could not be solved with administrative orders or personal goodwill. Over the past 60 years since the founding of the New China, especially the past 30 years since the adoption of reform and opening up, China has in an all-round way carried out the fundamental policy of governing the country by law, and constantly promoted the building of the country under the rule of law, thus creating good institutional conditions for human rights development. In legislation, China has permeated the spirit of human right guarantee into various laws including the Constitution, and every law has reflected the requirement for protecting human rights. In law execution, the Chinese Government has stressed that functions and powers shall be exercised strictly in accordance with the limits of authority and procedures specified in the laws, that attention shall be paid to safeguarding the rights and interests of the party concerned, and that various illegal actions including the impairing of people's interests and abuse of one's power for personal gains shall be firmly corrected in the administrative law enforcement. In the judicature, China has strengthened the lawful supervision over litigation activity, thus safeguarding the judicial impartiality, and carried out the principle of the court independently trying, thus realizing the open and impartial adjudgement.

 

(IV)

 

Over the past 60 years since the founding of the New China, especially the past 30 years since the adoption of reform and opening up, the universally recognized achievements have been made in China's human rights cause.

 

First, people's living standard will be further enhanced and the dream of prosperity for all will come true. In light of the goal set by the 17th CPC National Congress, we will build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and quadruple the per capita GDP of the year 2000 by 2020. Then, Chinese people's living conditions will be markedly improved, their income and richness enhanced significantly, conditions for both urban and rural residents' food, clothing, housing, transport and other daily necessities and life quality improved, and orderly and rational income distribution pattern in place, with a large proportion of middle-income group, and absolute poverty basically removed. Chinese people's rights to survival and development will be safeguarded at a higher level.

 

Second, the economic, social and cultural rights will further expand. Due to increasingly enhanced national financial power, the input of the public finance in the social security system and social development will continuously rise. The Chinese people will enjoy markedly improved public services such as social security, education, medical treatment and health care and gradually realize their equal access to basic public services. By 2020, a social security system covering both urban and rural residents will basically established, with each people enjoying the guarantee of basic living allowance and people's right to social security basically achieved. Employment will be further expanded, a mechanism that ensures equal employment opportunities for both urban and rural residents will be established, and various rights and interests of every worker will be protected effectively. The modern system of national education will be further improved, a basic system for lifelong education will be in place, and the educational attainment of the whole nation will rise to a much higher level. Everyone will have access to basic medical and health services. The heath of the whole nation will be improved

 

Third, the citizens' orderly participation in political affairs will be further expanded and socialist democracy improved more. In order to reach this goal, in the course of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China will expand people's democracy, improve institutions for democracy, diversify its forms and expand its channels, and carry out democratic election, decision-making, administration and oversight in accordance with the law to guarantee the people's rights to be informed, to participate, to be heard, and to oversee. At the same time, it will further develop primary-level democracy, make people directly exercise their democratic rights in accordance with the law to manage public affairs and public service programs at the primary level, and exercise democratic oversight over cadres, thus ensuring that the people enjoy democratic rights in a more extensive and practical way. Citizens' right to participate constitutes the core of the political power. We must make more people participate in national political life, exercising political power, administration and public governance. Citizens' participation is in an all-round way, being penetrated from beginning to end of political life. The laws and regulations cannot be formulated and brought into effect without citizens' participation.

 

Fourth, building a socialist country under the rule of law, giving full play to the role of the law in guaranteeing human rights and safeguarding social equity and justice. By 2010, a socialist law system with Chinese characteristics will be in place in China, and there must be laws to go by in respect of human rights. Public awareness of law will be further enhanced, and fresh progress will be made in government administration based on the rule of law. The courts and procuratorates exercise their respective powers independently and impartially in accordance with the law. Human rights will be respected in all links of law execution and judicature and basic human rights will be safeguarded in legal means.

 

Fifth, the scope of social and personal freedom will be further expanded. The history of China's several decades of social development actually demonstrates that China has opened its society constantly wider to the outside world, and constantly expanded the freedom. This trend will still continue. Realization of the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way will make people enjoy more extensive freedom and personal rights more guaranteed.

 

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