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Decisive Stage of All-round Construction of Well-off Society Is A New Opportunity for China’s Human Rights Cause
August 12,2016   By:CSHRS
Decisive Stage of All-round Construction of Well-off Society Is A New Opportunity for China’s Human Rights Cause
 
LI Junru*
 
The period of “The 13th Five-Year Plan” for national socioeconomic development (2016-2020) is a decisive stage of completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society in China, and the year of 2016 is the first annum of this decisive stage. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping has, with a new stance and new ideas, has set strategic tasks and priorities of the hard fight for realizing “the first centenary goal” of the struggle for great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. By earnestly studying the spirit of the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee from the perspective of the development of China’s human rights cause, we can realize that the various tasks and the relevant measures unveiled in the “13th Five-Year Plan” from the goals of the struggle, guiding principles and development ideas to planning for socioeconomic development all indicate that the decisive stage of completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society is a new opportunity for the development of China’s human rights cause.
 
I. Goal: Practical Protection of Human Rights
In expounding the new goals of and requirements for all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society in the next five years, the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee clearly pointed out: “Human rights shall be practically safeguarded and property rights shall be practically protected.” As we all know, human practice is the unity of regularity with teleonomy, and is materialized activity to purposely remold the objective world. Making goals of actions clear is of great importance in the process of human practice and formulating programs of action, because goals always determine the orientation of man’s actions. It is a critical opportunity for the development of human rights cause in China to set the issue of human rights as major goals to strive for during the “13th Five-Year Plan” period.It was a long historical process from the time that we realized human rights are not a monopoly of the capitalist class to the time of including the term of “respect and safeguard human rights” into the Constitution and the Party Constitution. Generally, we emphasize the issue of human rights as a major issue in development of the rule of law. For example, the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee emphasized that respecting and safeguarding human rights is a major task of judicial reform. This time, the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee put forward “practical safeguarding of human rights” as a major goal in the entire “5th Five-Year Plan” period, which  is obviously a step further than the initiation of “practical guarantee of the people’s rights and interests” by the CPC Central Committee in formulating the “12th Five-Year Plan” (2011-2015), and which is therefore of great significance. Particularly, in the context of the proposal of the CPC Central Committee for formulating the “13th Five-Year Plan”, this article is included in the requirement that “the systems in all respects are more mature and better established”, namely, the requirement for modernization of national governance system and capacity. According to our knowledge, it is a general goal of comprehensively deepening reform to “improve and develop the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and promote modernization of the national governance system and capacity”. That is to say, the provision of “practical protection of human rights” is included into the “13th Five-Year Plan” as a requirement of the general goal of comprehensively deepening reform, and has become an objective of the struggle in the decisive stage of completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society, which is therefore of extraordinary significance. 
So, we have all reasons to conclude that the decisive stage of completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society within the next five years is a new opportunity for our promotion of development of the cause of human rights. 
 
II. Guiding Principle: Putting People at the Central Position
Goals need to be manifested in principles while principles are extensions of goals. A well-formulated plan for economic and social development requires not only correct goals, but also scientific guiding principles. In discussing the guiding principles that must be followed in all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society in the five years to come, the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee proposed six major principles, which are: adherence to the status of the people as masters of the country, adherence to the Scientific Outlook on Development, adherence to deepening reform, adherence to the law-based governance of the country, adherence to coordinating the external and domestic dimensions, and adherence to leadership by the CPC. . In particular, , the first of these principles is “adherence to the status of the people as masters of the country”. In discussion of this principle, it was proposed for the first time ever that we must “stick to the development thought of putting people at the central position”.
In understanding “the development thought of putting people at the central position” as a guiding principle in connection with the goal of “practical protection of human rights” as emphasized in the above, , we can realize that, to some extent, the “13th Five-Year Plan” is actually an economic and social development plan that puts people at the central position and that is for practical protection of human rights. The thought of putting people at the central position has, on the one hand, reflected the thought of development for the people and by the people and sharing of the development achievements among the people as consistently stressed by the Party. On the other hand, this thought, in light of the problems existing today, specifically proposes definition of improvement of the people’s wellbeing and promotion of comprehensive development of man as the motive and target of development, to promote the people’s democracy, to maintain social fairness and justice, to protect the people’s rights of equal participation and equal development, and to fully arouse the people’s enthusiasm, initiative and creativity. Therefore, this thought has not only fundamentally confirmed the “central” status of human rights in “development”, but has also provided the historical materialism’s philosophical basis for and theoretical guidance to practical protection of protecting human rights.
More importantly, in the formulation of the 13th Five-Year Plan”, “putting people at the central position” was not just a slogan. Rather, it was a guiding principle reflected in a series of specific measures. For example, among the proposals brought up by the CPC Central Committee, two numbers (“one hundred million” and “seventy million”) appear to be very remarkable. The number of “one hundred million” here means that over the next five years, one hundred million or so migrant workers and other permanent population shall be enabled to settle down in urban areas. This part of the population mainly refers to people admitted into schools or joining the armed forces in urban areas and migrants who have been working and living in urban areas for over five years and former rural residents that have migrated to urban areas for permanent residence with their entire families. The settlement of the one hundred million people in urban areas is an important measure for acceleration of the process of urbanization in the reform of household registration system, which is not only of great significance to economic development and social stability, but also means a great progress in China’s cause of human rights. The number of “seven million” means that 70.17 million poor people in rural areas shall be lifted out of poverty and impoverished counties shall all be cleared of their reputation as poverty-stricken counties through implementation of projects of cracking hard nuts in shaking off poverty and application of measures of precise and targeted poverty alleviation. 
Of course, the Central Authorities have estimated that by the end of 2020, there will still have been over 20 million poor people totally or partially losing their labor capacity. By then, they shall have been lifted out of poverty simultaneously by means of the minimum living allowance policy of the social security system. China’s poverty alleviation and poverty eradication have both attracted worldwide attention in the world’s history of human rights, and what China is doing therein, more significantly, is just a great project of human rights. All these developments are in the best interpretation of the thought of “putting people at the central position” brought up by the CPC Central Committee.
Meanwhile, the CPC Central Committee proposed that the competent departments concerned, in formulating the “13th Five-year Plan”, specifically articulate that not only should the thought of “putting people at the central position” be adhered to in economic and social development, but also “the working orientation of putting people at the central position should be adhered to” in accelerating cultural development and reform and building China into a country powerful in socialist culture; and that in mobilizing the masses of the people to get united in their struggle, sufficiently promote democracy, implement the mass line of the CPC, enhance the capacity of publicity and organizing the masses of the people, and strengthen consultation on major issues concerning economic and social development and issues concerning the people’s vital interests, to “protect the legitimate rights and interests of the people in accordance with law”.
That is to say, in the decisive stage of completion of construction of a moderately prosperous society, we should always adhere to a dominant principle in doing any work both theoretically and practically: putting people at the central position and practically protecting human rights. It is in this significance that we can say the decisive stage of completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society is a new opportunity for the development of human rights in China.
 
III. New Development Concept: Substantiation and Enrichment of the Rights of Survival and Development 
It is known to all that the greatest theoretical contribution made by the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee is the initiation of the new concept of innovation-based, coordinated, green, open and shareable development. Emphasizing the need to firmly set up this new concept of development is in both substantiation and enrichment of the rights of survival and development as a primary part of basic human rights.
The CPC has had increasingly profound understanding of issues of development since shifting its working priorities. There are manifestation and outcome of deepening of such understanding from the proposition of “Development is the absolute necessity” to the proposition of “Development is the top priority for the CPC to conduct administration and revive the nation”, and from the initiation of the Scientific Outlook on Development featuring “Putting People First” and pursuit of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development” to the initiation of the “new concept of innovation-based, coordinated, green, open and shareable development”. The initiation of this new concept of development by the 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee meets the intrinsic requirement of the “new normal” of the economic development in China, has defined the basic guideline, fundamental orientation and focus of efforts in future development of China, and is of great guiding significance to solving hard problems faced by China in development, strengthening the driving force for development and enhancing the advantages for development. . At the same time, it has also provided us with new perspectives and new contents in conducting research on the theory of human rights, particularly the theory of the rights of survival and development.
Innovation-based development highlights and emphasizes business startup by all and innovation by all, and what it respects and protects are just the rights of survival and development of “all”. Because China’s economic development has entered a new normal, the economy that used to be driven by essential factors of production has been transformed into one driven by innovation, to improve both the quality and efficiency of development, and to meet the demand of the masses of the people arising after improvement of their living standards. In such an innovation-driven economy, business startup by all and innovation by all are both a great highlight.. The innovation-driven economy not only needs to meet the demand of the masses of the people, but is also an economy in which the masses of the people are the main players of business startup and innovation, namely an economy that puts people at the central position. It is totally tenable to say that respecting and protecting business startup by all and innovation by all just means respecting and protection of human rights.
Coordinated development is focused on promoting coordinated regional development between rural and urban areas, promoting coordinated economic and social development, and promoting synchronous development of the new type industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, with the aim of respecting and guaranteeing enjoyment of equal rights of survival and development by the people. In the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the CPC Central Committee put forward a series of powerful measures to settle imbalances in regional development and urban- rural development. China is a country with vast territory and numerous ethnic groups featured by great differences in natural conditions, a low rate of urbanization and unbalanced regional development and urban-rural development. Such a kind of imbalances, superficially, manifested as imbalances of the extent of economic development and the people’s living standards. But actually, what exist behind are imbalances of the rights of survival and development. Therefore, by means of such measures as fostering points of growth driving coordinated regional development, perfecting systems and mechanisms for integration of urban-rural development, promoting a new type of urbanization with people at the core, and promoting balanced distribution of public resources in urban and rural areas, the enjoyment of relatively balanced rights of survival and development by people in all regions can be fundamentally guaranteed, which is a major strategy and major measure for respecting and protecting human rights.
Green development emphasizes green prospering of the nation and green benefiting of the people, which is a necessary condition for sustainable development and which is an important manifestation of the people’s pursuit of a good life. What green development respects and guarantees are the rights of survival and development that unifies the life of people with wealth. History is quite interesting. At the time when the feudal society associated with a “green” farming civilization was replaced by capitalism associated with a “black” industrial civilization, human rights were embodied on the flag of human civilization. When man realizes that “the silent spring” is about to ruin achievements in civilization that have been made, maintenance of the “green” ecological civilization and the corresponding people’s health has also become a task of the struggle in the cause of human rights. Just like other developing countries, China has set industrialization and modernization as its new goals of the struggle, after realizing national independence and the people’s liberation. Therefore, the route to modernization of liner promotion from “green” development to “black” development and then back to “green” development that the Western world underwent has become a route to modernization adopted by China with simultaneous promotion, in which China not only needs to realize “black” industrialization, but should also protect the “green” ecological civilization. Within such a context, we face a hard choice between “lucid waters and lush mountains” and “golden and silver mountains”. The “green development” concept we emphasize here today is exactly the concept that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping a decade ago. From the perspective of safeguarding human rights, what the above-mentioned concept respects and safeguards are the rights of survival and development that are in consistency with the life and wealth of man. 
Open development is an indispensable path for national prosperity and development, and it is also a new way to expand human rights particularly the rights of survival and development. The 5th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee put emphasis on ushering in a new situation of two-way opening up featuring “introduction into China” and “going global”. In particular, it emphasized strengthening of cooperation with the relevant countries and regions in promoting construction of the Silk Road Economic Zone and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Zone and the Road). Superficially judged, itseems this does not have much to do with human rights. But in reality, it not only opens a new path for guaranteeing human rights of the Chinese people, particularly the rights of survival and development of the people in the central and western regions, but also signifies that China will make greater contribution to the global cause of human rights while building an extensive community of common interests around the globe.
Shareable development is in more specific articulation of the need to focus energy on promoting the people’s well-being in accordance with the requirement of participation by all, exertion of every effort by all and sharing by all, to guarantee the rights of survival and development of citizens in an all-round way. The  Of the proposal by the CPC Central Committee for formulating the “13th Five Year Plan”, the part on shareable development includes  increase of public service provision, execution of projects of cracking hard nuts in shaking off poverty, improvement of the quality of education, promotion of employment and business startups, decrease of income gaps, establishment of a more open and more sustainable social security system, promotion of development of a healthy China, promotion of balanced development of the population, active launch of operations to tackle aging of the population, adherence to the basic national policy of equality between men and women, protection of the rights and interests of minors, and perfection of the service systems of supporting and aiding the disabled. All these unexceptionally have a basic thought running through them – respecting and guaranteeing human rights and respecting and guaranteeing the rights of survival and development of citizens. All of these are centered on one basic thought: respect and protect human rights and the right to life and development.
In short, the new concept of innovation-based, coordinated, green, open and shareable development initiated by the CPC Central Committee is a development concept that puts people in the central position and that respects and protects human rights. It enriches, substantiates and develops the rights of survival and development as a primary part of basic human rights. The period of implementation of the “13th Five-Year Plan” in which the new concept of development is implemented is just a period of new opportunities for development of the cause of human rights in China.
 
IV. Preventive preparation: Meeting challenges to human rights
The “13th Five Year Plan” is the decisive period of completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society in China. It is also the home stretch and the hardest period of time for completion of all-round construction of a moderately prosperous society in the country. As far as the cause of human rights in China is concerned, this stage is a period of opportunities for it with the existence of challenges thereto. We should be fully prepared in prevention, seize the opportunities to develop the cause of human rights cause and meet the challenges by deepening research on issues of human rights.
First of all, the issue of human rights underlying in economic restructuring is a major issue that needs to be tackled in preventive preparation. President Xi Jinping pointed that as the “13th Five Year Plan” is the first Five-Year Plan after the entry of China’s economic development into a new normal, the new normal must be adapted to, must be grasped and must be led therein. At the same time, he profoundly pointed out that speed change, structural optimization and shift of driving force are three major characteristics of the new normal of China’s economic development. These changes are in independence of man’s will, and are inevitable requirements of the characteristics of the current stage of economic development in China. Indeed, whether the Chinese economy could maintain a medium-to-high growth rate is to a great extent determinable by structural readjustment and optimization Meanwhile, Restructuring and optimization, however, is a very complicated phase involving resources redistribution, ownership change and integration of property rights, shut-down, suspension, merger and shift to other operations of enterprises, upgrading and updating of products, etc. In particular, every step taken in restructuring therein will touch the personal interests and various legal rights and interests of workers and staff members of the enterprises concerned, including the issue of whether theirs human rights can be respected and protected. Countries all over the world have much experience and many lessons over the issue, and we ourselves have also paid dearly therefor. Thus, in the process of promoting restructuring and optimization, we should not only take the requirement of economic development into account, but should also seriously consider and well handle the rights and interests of workers and staff members of the relevant enterprises, including their human rights, to prevent any mass disturbance that should not occur.
Secondly, the issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) in driving by innovation is yet another major issue that needs to be tackled in preventive preparation. Proceeding from the realities, it is a wise choice for China to initiate driving by innovation to replace driving by essential factors of production. Since the adoption of the policy of reform and opening up (in 1978), the various essential factors of production driving great development of the Chinese economy have included land, labor force and so on, which, however, have almost been fully used. Particularly at the present, as a result of significant shrinking of global markets, in addition to lagging behind of both urbanization and innovation of science and technology in China, there has occurred the problem of surplus of the production capacity in many fields. Under such a circumstance, it has become difficult to continue applying the approach of driving economic development mainly with investment and exports as we did in the past. In light of such a situation, the CPC Central Committee under the leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping has articulated that innovation is the primary driving force for development, which is of great strategic significance.  As long as we realize practice, all emphasize and promote innovation and create a series of original technology, new points of economic growth can be established.  As long as we promote business startup by all and innovation by all and sufficiently arouse the creativity, enthusiasm and initiative of the broad masses of the people during the “13th Five Year Plan” period, with the people as the main players the various difficult problems faced nowadays will all be settled. How to protect IPR of innovators is a major question which should not be ignored in promoting innovation-driven development. For quite many years, the issue of IPR protection has been one for which China has been frequently criticized by other countries. If this issue is not properly settled,  the enthusiasm of innovators would be seriously dampened, and both the national economic development and the image of the country would be seriously tarnished. Therefore, promotion of innovation and strengthening of IPR protection should be handled as the two integral parts of a whole, without any loosening of efforts. 
And thirdly, the issue of human rights in joint construction of the Road and the Zone is also a major issue that needs to be tackled in preventive preparation. Promotion of construction of the Road and the Zone has become a national strategy of China. Therefore, implementation of this strategy and guarantee of success of it not only concerns China’s opening up and economic development, but is also related to China’s relations with neighboring countries and national security. As far as promotion of this great strategy is concerned, both the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have made rather complete plans for it, and have paid close attention to coordinating construction of the Road and the Zone with the relevant development strategies of the countries along the Road and the Zone. Meanwhile, we should also sober-mindedly realize that many problems concerning interests and ideologies will be met in the implementation of this strategy, including factors of customs, religion and human rights. In particular, some countries along the Road and the Zone are challenged by forces of terrorism and religious extremism, with very complicated situations. As for the issue of human rights, we should not only safeguard the human rights of the Chinese citizens working abroad, but should also respect the local customs and the human rights of citizens in the countries where the relevant Chinese-funded enterprises are based, without any carelessness. To this effect, we need to have sufficient mental preparedness and reserves of countermeasures.
In addition, there also exists the issue of human rights in many other fields and other work. For example, in the operation of pilot projects of urbanization, reform of the household registration system, and exploration for applying the system of land retirement in rotation of cultivated farmland, there is unexceptionally the issue of human rights to which attention should be paid. If violation of human rights is regarded as a trivial matter, serious matters of social stability will definitely be caused. Cadres at all levels must have the awareness about respecting and protection of human rights, and put human rights in mind in making plans. They can never be simplistic in doing work on people, not to mention violation of human rights.
It is tenable to say that in the “13th Five-Year Plan” period as a decisive stage of completion of construction of a moderately prosperous society in China, there are two major opportunities for promoting respecting and protection of human rights – firstly, the great and new opportunity for vigorous development of the cause of human rights in China, and secondly, the great and new opportunity for deepening research on the issue of human rights in responding to challenges. In this sense, we are more confident in development of the cause of human rights in China, and are also under greater responsibility for it
 
*LI Junru (李君如),vice president of the Chinese Society for Human Rights Studies.