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China and South-South Cooperation -- Important Role in Promoting Human Rights Development in the World A Perspective From Malaysia
December 12,2017   By:chinahumanrights.org
China and South-South Cooperation -- Important Role in
Promoting Human Rights Development in the World
A Perspective From Malaysia
 
Peter Thiam Chai CHANG
 
Malaysia
 
Introduction

Today's South South Human Rights Forum in Beijing is important in many ways. At the outset this presents to us a unique occasion to renew historical ties and reinforce old solidarity forged during the 1950s between our then newly independent states. Indeed, fifty years on, most of us have moved beyond our colonial past to shape our own national destiny. However the progress achieved varies markedly between member states. In city states like Singapore the post colonial transformation has been outstanding. Others however are less successful, members such as Laos and Rwanda, for example, continue to face considerable social impediments and economic stagnation.
 
Thus though bound by a shared history, the South South countries have become ever more divergent economically, due to the uneven pace of growth, a scenario that is straining the grouping cohesion. But as the two Chinese words representing crisis (危机Weiji) connote, in times of emergency there is opportunity. Indeed, this challenging circumstance should present itself as a contingency for betterment. And it is in this spirit, I believe that we have gathered and convene this forum to discuss how we as a community can overcome the present-day disparities and to work for the greater good of the whole through resource pooling and mutual uplift.
 
Now the framing of this endeavor in terms of human rights is expedient. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a watershed moment with regard to the attestation of the human race as belonging to one human family. Anchored on the doctrine that each person, by virtue of being human, are entitled to a set of natural rights. And this compendium of civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights, ought to be effectuated in order to sustain a dignity human existence. Concededly, attainment of many of these rights remain elusive, even today, for a significant part of the worlds population. As a matter of fact, countries across the globe, including South South members states, continue to fall short of the standards enshrined in the UDHR. Hence it is opportune that human rights should be headlined in the central theme of this Beijing's forum. Indeed, there is not better way to build a community of common destiny than to work through the advancement of our universal human rights.
 
The proposed South South human rights based undertaking needs to be placed within the broader context of the PRC's other endeavors, and the China Dream is one. In 2013,
President Xi Jinping exhorted young Chinese "to dare to dream, work assiduously to fulfill the dreams and contribute to the revitalization of the nation". This national aspiration has in recent months been framed, at least indirectly, within two time scheduled 'centenaries' goals. The first is to propel the PRC towards a full Xiaokang massive infrastructure investment, the BRI seeks to rejuvenate old trading routes and create(moderately well off) society by 2021, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. The second is to aim for becoming a "strong democratic, civilized, harmonious, and modern socialist country" by 2049, when the People Republic of China hit the century mark.
 
These are bold, ambitious but not impossible dreams. The Chinese leaders and Chinese people have exhibited the prerequisite tenacity and resolve to make these dreams become reality. And as is the sign of the times, what transpires within China has repercussions beyond the mainland. And in a variety of ways, we are witnessing the metamorphosis of the China Dream into an Asian Dream. There is no better illustration of this expansion then the Belt and Road Initiative (一带一路, BRI). Launched in 2013, this economic grandmaster plan has captured the attention and imagination of many across continental as well as maritime Asia. Through new economic corridors. Covering a vast geography, this Pan Asia initiative has the potential to positively impact the livelihood of millions, including a significant portion of the South-
South constituents.
 
Set in this backdrop, today's Beijing Forum stated objective of “Building a Community of Common Destiny for Mankind: New Opportunities for the Development of South-South Human Rights" may be seen as the dovetailing of various visions, and the expansion of existing overlapping initiatives to advance the good of an even larger part of our human family. Undoubtedly these are exciting times, as we embark upon the quest to realize our universal aspiration, that is to enhance the fate of humanity. These noble aspirations however will never come to past without commitment and determination, as this will undoubtedly be a long and arduous venture, with many obstacles standing in the way of realizing these ideals.
 
This paper will present from the Malaysia perspective the possibilities and hindrances that come with such grand visions. I will do this by breaking down the prospective community into three sets of human rights based building blocks. The first ('Building' a Community) examines the basic architecture of any communal order, namely, its social economical structure. I will look into how the BRI has generated significant impact upon Malaysia and the social-economic rights challenges that lie ahead in terms of a better distribution of wealth, creation of employment, and lifting of living standards. The second block ( Governing a Community) studies the softer components of the human order, namely the social and cultural, civil and political rights. The focus will be on two sets of issues, racial and religious harmony, and judicious governance. Finally, in the third segment (A Community of Common Destiny -- Mother Earth) we will examine the dire exigency afflicting our age, namely the environmental crisis, and analyze how this is impacting our rights and those of the future generation.