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New Achievements Have Been Made in China’s Human Rights Cause
March 07,2017   By:CSHRS
New Achievements Have Been Made in China’s Human Rights Cause

JIANG Jianguo*
 
On June 2012, the Information Office of the State Council, authorized by the State Council, released the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015). This was the second national action plan following the National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2010). Formulating and promulgating the national human rights action plan reprensents a major initiative for the Chinese government to adhere to the constitutional principles of respecting and protecting human rights and promoting China’s human rights in a comprehensive way.
 
According to the assessment of this National Human Rights Action Plan, the overall implementation work was good and has yielded satisfying results with the fulfillment of major goals and tasks within the time limit. These results included meeting 48% obligatory quotas and surpassing a 50% quota that was concerned with people’s livelihood. These results were achieved ahead of schedule and surpassed some designated quotas, which fully demonstrated that the Chinese Government fulfilled its solemn commitment on protecting human rights.   
 
Firstly, all people have shared more of the reform dividends. The level of the economic, social and cultural rights have advanced as the Chinese government properly handled the complex situations at both home and abroad. This is seen especially in the challenge arising from economic downward pressure. Meanwhile the government actively adapts and leads the new normal in economic development, comprehensively deepens reform and strives to protect people’s rights to subsistence and development so that we can ensure all people gain the sense of obtaining, creating, and sharing social benefits. From 2012-2015, China’s GDP registered an annual growth rate of 7.4%. The per capita disposable income in urban areas increased by 7.5 % annually and 9.2% in rural areas. Over 10 million people in urban areas entered the job market this year. The number of rural residents living in poverty was reduced by 66.63 million. More than 95% citizens have been covered by the basic medical insurance. Coverage of basic endowment insurance is now over 80%. Meanwhile equal education is more accessible. Also new progress has been made in ecological development.
 
Secondly, our socialist democracy and the rule of law have been effectively advanced and civil and political rights are protected in a practical manner. China has integrated the respect and protection of human rights with the rule of law. Besides, the role of legislation is leading and promoting the human rights cause. China is deeply promoting law-based governance, speeding up the establishment of the legal government, deepening the reform of judicial system, ensuring judicial quality and enhancing the legal protection of human rights. In 2013, China the first time fully implemented the election of deputies to the National Congress based on equal urban and rural population proportions. China is strengthening information disclosure, smoothing out online contact channels, and improving mechanisms for handling petition letters and visits to governments and institutions. In addition, China is ensuring people’s rights to be informed and right to participate. It is deeply streamlining and delegating more power to lower administrative levels. From 2014 to 2015, 557 administrative approvals were eliminated and delegated to the lower governments and 272 professional qualification licenses and accreditations had been removed, which brought non-administrative approvals to an end. China has revised the Criminal Procedure Law of People’s Republic of China to clearly regulate, respect, and protect human rights. At the same time, the revision allows the clear protection of the right and claims of suspects and defendants and secures the practicing rights of lawyers. The government is also reducing the application of compulsory measures related to detention while strictly controlling and applying the death penalty in a prudent way. At the same time, the government is strengthening legal assistance and improving community-based correction systems for prisoners and supporting the people released after serving the sentence, building an assistance system for criminal victims, improving the national compensation system, and establishing a sound judicial guarantee mechanism.
 
Thirdly, the government pragmatically ensures equal status for people. The rights and protection of all groups have been strengthened step by step. China respects and protects all kinds of rights of ethnic groups, women, children, senior citizens and the disabled and ensures all groups an equal share of the  benefits of development. The rights for ethnic minorities to equally participate in the administration of state and social affairs will be guaranteed on a legal basis. There is at least 1 deputy in the National Congress for each of the 55 ethnic minorities. The economic development rights of ethnic minorities are protected. From 2012-2015, the number of poor people in the eight ethnic provinces had been reduced from 31.21 million to 18.13 million. Women’s equal status and legitimate rights and interests are comprehensively protected. The number of female deputies in the 12th National Congress has increased by 2.07% over that of the previous year. In December 2015, the Anti-domestic Violence Law was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National Congress, which provides legal protection for women suffering from domestic violence. The rights of children, especially female children, are  protected. Additionally in 2015, the gender ratio of births favoring males decreased. The social service system for the elderly gained further development. Until 2015, there were 10.5 thousand elderly-care institutions and facilities across China. This was 138% more than that of 2012. Old service facilities as homes have generally covered urban residential communities. More than 50% of rural residential communities and disabled people can universally get social insurance. By the end of 2015, 10.884 million disabled people have been given a range of subsistence allowances. Also almost 22.3 million of them have participated in the social insurance system for the elderly in urban and rural areas, among which 302.3 million urban residents have been covered by basic medical insurance.  
 
Fourthly, our core socialist values have been further promoted while the research on human rights have significantly moved up to a new level. The Chinese government actively fosters and practices the core socialist values, making it the common ideal and spiritual support of the Chinese people and the ideological and cultural guide for the development of China's human rights cause. The government pays more attention to raising the level of theoretical research on human rights and promoting human rights awareness and education. It actively spreads the positive energy of human rights, cultivates the cultural atmosphere of respecting and safeguarding human rights, and strengthens the human rights training of public officials. From 2012 to 2015, the State Council Information Office and the National Human Rights Education and Training Base held 144 training courses concerning human rights, carried out human rights education activities appropriate for teenagers’ interests, supported the construction of the relevant disciplines of human rights and human rights theoretical research in colleges and universities, established five “National Human Rights Education and Training Bases”, and supported and encouraged the media to actively spread human rights knowledge and philosophy. The government also  told stories about China's human rights. The government encouraged universal support for human rights protection.
 
Fifthly, international exchanges and cooperation on human rights have been extensively carried out. Additionally, human rights concepts, policies and achievements have gained more respect. China has actively conducted international exchanges and cooperation on human rights, and strived to promote the sound development of the global human rights cause. This is especially true for the human rights to subsistence and development in developing countries. China has seriously fulfilled its obligations to international treaties and submitted performance reports of the international treaties in a timely manner, and accepted the review and examination of those documents. The government has actively participated in the multilateral United Nations Conference on Human Rights and made constructive dialogues with a wide range of institutions. China has also reinforced human rights dialogues with relevant countries and regions, actively conducted academic communications on human rights to improve awareness and understanding of different situations in protecting human rights, and expanded converging interests and common ground with other countries in the field of human rights. 
 
Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Central Committee led by the General Secretary Xi Jinping, has proposed and implemented a series of new concepts, ideas and strategies for governance and administration. These are the basic principles, reasons and fundamental guarantees for the new development of China's human rights cause. In the process of applying the new thinking, ideas and strategies of the CPC Central Committee to the development of China’s human rights cause, the following experience is of great significance:
 
Firstly, we should adhere to the path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics. To push forward Chinese human rights cause, we should combine the universal principle of human rights with the realities in China. We should take a human rights development path in line with China's national conditions. We should adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China, which is the fundamental guarantee for China's human rights cause; while adhering to the socialist system and achieving the organic unity of protecting collective human rights and individual human rights. We should keep the rights of subsistence and development as the primary and fundamental human rights, promote a coordinated development between the economic, social and cultural rights and the civil and political rights to safeguard people's rights to subsistence and development at higher levels; adhere to the principles of openness and inclusiveness, and actively draw on all valuable civilization achievements in human history for Chinese national conditions and historical and cultural traditions. 
 
Secondly, we should adhere to development thought with a people-orientation character. As people are the fundamental strength in promoting development, it is important to realize, uphold, and promote the fundamental interests of the people. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Central Committee led by General Secretary Xi Jinping has: enhanced the well-being of the people, promoted people's all-around development, steadily made progress towards common prosperity as the starting point and the ultimate goal of development, conformed to the people's expectation for a better life and pursued a development strategy for the people. During this process, the government has relied on the joint efforts of the people and also shared the development achievements with them. As a result, people have had a greater sense of obtaining happiness. Therefore, we can constantly break a new frontier in advancing China’s human rights.
 
Thirdly, we should constantly improve the institutionalization level in the protection of human rights. China has fully brought the respect and safeguard of human rights into the rule of law track, adhered to the integrated construction of legal state, government and society, and pushed forward scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, impartial justice, and national compliance of law. China has also promoted the modernization of the state governance system and its governance capability, assured and developed a system that guarantees the people to be masters of the country, protected citizens' personal rights, property rights, basic political rights and other rights from being infringed upon, and guaranteed citizens' economic, social, cultural and other rights .
 
Fourthly, we should adhere to the principle of cultivating the culture of China’s human rights. We must take the socialist core values as our guidance with more emphasis on the publicity of human rights knowledge and education. Meanwhile we must continuously improve the whole society’s awareness of respecting and protecting human rights to lay a broad social foundation for the development human rights. Centering on human rights development in China and major issues over international human rights, we need to actively carry out research on the theory of human rights and speed up the construction of a human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics. We also need to encourage and support international exchanges on human rights and provide more public products for the development of a global human rights cause. 
 
In light of the above efforts and achievements, the Chinese government has formulated and released two national action plans and has received good results. The government is formulating a new national human rights action plan according to the 13th Five-Year National Economic and Social Development Plan and will release the human rights action plan soon. 
 
We could do more in the way of protecting people’s human rights. Standing on a new historical starting point, the Chinese people are striving to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-around way, and establish a prosperous, strong, democratic, cultural-advanced and harmonious modern socialist country. Also the Chinese people want to realize China’s dream to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. In essence, this process is to constantly protect people's livelihood and realize social fairness and justice, while meeting the material and cultural demands of all people. We will push forward the human rights cause in China at a higher level, promote people’s all-around development and continue to make unremitting efforts to achieve the lofty goal of fully enjoying human rights.
 
* Jiang Jianguo (蒋建国), Deputy Minister of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, Director of the Information Office of the State Council. This article is the author’s summary of his remarks at the assessment conference regarding the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015) on June 14, 2016.