Home > PUBLICATIONS & RESOURCES > JOURNAL >

Experiences and Achievements in the Development of Human Rights in China in the Past 40 Years of Reform and Opening-up -— A Summary of Viewpoints on the Seminar on Reform and Opening-up and the Progress of the Development of Human Rights in China
April 08,2019   By:CSHRS
Experiences and Achievements in the Development of Human Rights in China in the Past 40 Years of Reform and Opening-up
 
— A Summary of Viewpoints on the Seminar on Reform and Opening-up and the Progress of the Development of Human Rights in China
 
WANG Xigen* & CHEN Yan**
 
Abstract: Jointly held by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the publicity department of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China and organized by Institute for Human Rights and Law School of Wuhan University, A seminar on Reform and Opening-up and the Progress of the Development of Human Rights in China was held on July 18, 2018 in Wuhan. Over 100 distinguished scholars participated and discussed topics including “The path for human rights development”, “Reform and Opening-up and the theoretical innovation of human rights in China”, “Reform and Opening-up and the achievements of human rights in China”, and “Reform and Opening-up and the development of global human rights cause”. The seminar summarized China’s human rights achievements over the course of 40 years of Reform and Opening-up on multiple levels and from multiple perspectives and deepened practical and theoretical understandings about the development and progress of human rights in China.
 
Keywords: Reform and Opening-up, human rights, Chinese characteristics
 
Jointly held by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Publicity Department of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China and organized by Institute for Human Rights and Law School of Wuhan University, the seminar on Reform and Opening-up and the Progress of the Development of Human Rights in China was held in Wuhan, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the formulation of reform and opening-up. Guided by the thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, the seminar adhered to the principle of combining the universality of human rights with China’s national conditions, revealed the fundamental status of respecting and protecting human rights in China, and summarized the process of formation and rich connotations of China’s human rights discourse system. It was a comprehensive summary of the positive experience of the development of China’s human rights cause over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, a chance to demonstrate and share China’s human rights model that has achieved remarkable results through practice, and explore ways to further China’s human rights development in the future. Over 100 representatives, including leaders of relevant departments of the Party and government organs and the China Society for Human Rights Studies, as well as experts and scholars of human rights studies in universities and research institutes, attended the seminar. More than 10 media were present to cover the event.
 
I. Viewpoints of Keynote Speeches
 
Xu Xianming, Member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Deputy Chairman of the NPC Supervisory and Judicial Committee, and Vice President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, Li Junru, Vice President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies and former Vice President of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, Han Jin, Party Secretary of Wuhan University, and Li Long, Chairman of Human Rights Institute, Wuhan University, Senior Professor of humanities and social sciences, all delivered speeches.
 
Xu Xianming mentioned in his speech that the human rights experience gained and the road taken by China over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up should be summarized. From human rights theories, achievements of the human rights sys-tem, achievements of China’s human rights practice, China’s participation in international human rights exchange, and China’s contributions to the human rights cause of humankind, Xu summarized China’s achievements in human rights in the past 40 years of reform and opening up, and pointed out that these historic achievements proved the fact that China had embarked on a human rights development path with Chinese characteristics. The reason for the success of this path lay in the CPC’s leadership, the correct guidance of human rights theories and thoughts, our adherence to the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and the approach of being based on China’s reality. These are the core elements of the human rights development path with Chinese characteristics.
 
In his speech, Li Junru shared his thoughts and understanding on the progress of China’s human rights cause in the past 40 years of reform and opening-up. He pointed out that it was an extremely important experience in China’s human rights development to promote the sound development of China’s human rights cause by correctly understanding and grasping the main contradictions of socialism in China as well as the characteristics of their evolution. The discussion about the main contradictions of Chinese society in the report of the 19th CPC National Congress has reflected the two development stages of China’s human rights cause. At the first stage, China’s human rights cause was in the process of solving the main contradictions between the people’s growing material and cultural needs and backward social production. At the second stage, China’s human rights cause was in the process of addressing the main contradictions between the people’s growing need for a better life and unbalanced and inadequate development. The main contradictions of China in the new era had been in front of us. Human rights theorists should face up to the main contradictions of the Chinese society in the new era, take solving the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development as the major goal, and make new contributions to opening up the new situation of China’s human rights cause.
 
Professor Han Jin pointed out in his speech that by summarizing the practice and experience of the development and progress of China’s human rights cause during 40 years of the launch of the reform and opening-up, we could further deepen the study of China’s human rights theories, better tell the stories about human rights issues in China, interpret China’s human rights solutions, and protect the human rights of the Chinese people at a higher level.
 
Professor Li Long said that the people-centered approach was a scientific positioning as well as the guiding principle of China’s human rights building. The concept of people-centered development boasted extensive local resources. In the pre-Qin Dynasty period, Guan Zhong, the forerunner of Legalism, put forward the concept of “people-oriented governance.” The Taoists set forth the idea of “governing by inaction.” And the Mohists proposed “love for everyone” and “mutual help for common good”. It was precisely because of these concepts of people-oriented governance, respecting and protecting people that China had maintained its unity and prosperity for a long time. It was also an important reason why the Chinese civilization had lasted for about 5,000. We should make full use of the ancient Chinese concepts of governance and propose suggestions for human rights building in contemporary China with the help of these rich and profound local resources.
 
II. Reform and Opening-up and China’s Path of Human Rights Development
 
Since the launch of reform and opening-up 40 years ago, China has embarked on its own path of human rights development through ideological emancipation and institutional innovation. In this regard, the participating experts and scholars had indepth discussions on the development path of China’s human rights and the practice of the road to guarantee the rule of law for China’s human rights.
 
A. The development path of China’s human rights
 
Chang Jian, Director of the Human Rights Research Center and a Professor at the Zhou Enlai School of Government Management of Nankai University, believes that reform and opening-up has provided an endogenous driving force for the development of China’s human rights cause, which was mainly reflected in the following aspects: the market economy system promoted the equal protection of individual freedom and rights; the widening gap between the rich and the poor required the protection of individuals’ economic, social and cultural rights and the rights of the weak; the pattern of pluralistic interests demanded protection of citizens’ political rights to participate in public life on an equal footing; the appeal for rights relief promoted rule of law for human rights protection; and opening-up brought domestic protection of human rights in line with international norms.
 
Professor Li Yunlong from the Institute of International Strategy of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, analyzed the characteristics of China’s path of human rights development. He thought that China’s path of human rights development had several characteristics. For example, the right to subsistence and the right to development should be first guaranteed on the basis of economic development; the economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights had been promoted in a coordinated way; individual freedom and civil involvement had been expanded on the basis of maintaining social harmony and stability; human rights development had been advanced from top to bottom through top-level design; rapid development of human rights had been achieved in a sustained and step-by-step manner; breakthroughs had been made in major areas while human rights had been advanced in an all-round fashion; and international cooperation on human rights had been carried out on the premise of safeguarding national sovereignty.
 
Professor Xian Kailin, Executive Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Center at Northeast University of Finance and Economics, put forward two conclusions. First, the inclusive development of human rights stemmed from the ideological emancipation of reform and opening-up. Reform and opening up was the source of life and a powerful ideological force for advancing the human rights cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Second, Xi Jinping’s new concept of jointly building a community with a shared future for human beings was the latest theoretical achievement of the Chinese version of Marxism, which upgraded the inclusive path of opening-up in the field of human rights.
 
Professor Li Erping, Director of the Human Rights Research Center of Kunming University of Science and Technology, summarized the five characteristics of China’s human rights development since the start of reform and opening-up. First, advocating and practicing the principle that the right to subsistence is the basic human right. Second, resolutely opposing the politicization of human rights by Western governments. Third, upholding the right to development as the primary human right. Fourth, stressing the combination of the particularity and universality of human rights. Fifth, build-ing a community with a shared future for human beings and promoting global human rights governance. He believed that since the introduction of reform and opening-up policies, China’s human rights protection and economic development was mutually complementary and reinforcing. Economic growth had promoted the development and progress of the human rights cause, while human rights protection also made up for the shortcomings of the market economy.1
 
Professor Chen Youwu, Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute of Guangzhou University, made an incisive summary of the historical development of the relationship between the rule of law and human rights since the launch of reform and opening-up. He concluded that the human rights and the guarantee of rule of law in contemporary China had mainly experienced three stages: the adjustment of rule of law and human rights, the combination of rule of law and human rights, and the integration of rule of law and human rights. Based on this history of development, he concluded the relationship between rule of law and human rights. First, the law is an important link in the protection of human rights. Second, the protection of human rights is the fundamental purpose of the building of rule of law. Third, human rights are the bottom line for building a country under the rule of law, and it is impossible to build a country under the rule of law without the protection of human rights. The ultimate goal of rule of law and human rights is to integrate, together with democracy, into the socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics.2
 
Zhang Demiao, Professor of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, criticized the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project for failing to take into account the essence and characteristics of China’s human rights situation, China’s na-tional conditions and the actual needs of Chinese society. He argued that the Rule of Law Index should accurately reflect the reform and adjustment of China’s rule of law building, and must understand and grasp the value and concept that existed and played a sustained role in the ecological environment of China’s rule of law. Professor Zhang demonstrated the necessary value dimensions for the evaluation of rule of law. He analyzed the establishment of standards of human rights protection index from six di-mensions: 1. Citizens’ individual rights should be protected from illegal infringement; 2. Citizens’ political rights and freedom should be respected; 3. Citizens’ social and economic rights should be guaranteed; 4. Citizens’ cultural rights should be effectively realized; 5. The rights of special groups should be safeguarded; and 6. The improvement of the quality and effectiveness of legal aid.
 
B. The practice of the road to guarantee the rule of law for China’s human rights
 
Luo Huanxing, Deputy Division Director of the Research Office of the Legislative Work Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said that the adoption of the amendment to the Constitution at the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress strongly promoted and strengthened China’s socialist rule of law and human rights protection. He summarized and analyzed the progress of legislation on human rights protection in China from such aspects as protecting right to subsistence and the right to development of citizens, protecting the citizens’ economic, social and cultural rights, strengthening the institutional guarantee for people to be masters of the country, improving judicial protection of human rights, and improving the legal system to protect the rights and interests of women, minors, the elderly and the disabled.
 
Li Lei, Associate Professor of the School of Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, classified and summarized the progress of China’s human rights legislation since the start of reform and opening-up, and divided the process into three stages of evolution: ground-laying legislation, consolidation legislation and advanced legislation. She pointed out that the details of China’s human rights changes constituted a history of legislative amendment and legislative creation. The development of human rights in China has by no means reached the perfect tense, but it is in the present continuous tense. There had never been a legislative system in the world that was born to exhaust all types of human rights. Human rights legislation would always be “on the road.”
 
Professor Zhao Shukun, Assistant Director of the Human Rights Institute of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, analyzed the basic situation of the right to relief of claimants of criminal justice in China based on 346 judgment documents. She proposed that criminal justice compensation in the future should ensure that lawyers can fully participate in the criminal justice compensation process. We should improve the system of compensation for emotional distress, and continue to implement and innovate the system of consultation and reconciliation. In order to further improve the rights relief of the claimants of criminal justice compensation, the legal awareness and basic legal ability of citizens should be constantly improved.
 
Professor Xiang Yan, Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute of Wuhan University, made a profound analysis on the legal aid system as an important practice of human rights protection. He reviewed the history of China’s legal aid system, summarized the achievements and experience of China, and pointed out the main problems of the existing legal aid system. In his opinion, the key measures to improve China’s legal aid system are introducing a law on legal aid, providing diversified legal aid service products, building a multi-channel financing system, improving the quality supervision mechanism for legal aid cases, and completing the concept transformation of China’s legal aid system.
 
Hu Zhenyi, Division Director of the Internet Publicity Department of the Legal Publicity Department of the Ministry of Justice, summarized and analyzed the legal publicity and education, as well as the development of the human rights cause. He believed that publicity and education to raise awareness of the Constitution would make the government’s concept of respecting and protecting human rights more popular. The concept of human rights should be widely popularized in the whole society by combining human rights education with the popularization of the law among the whole people. We should make positive contributions to the development and progress of China’s human rights cause by innovating ways and methods of publicity and education on the rule of law, and focusing on improving the effectiveness of publicity and education on human rights.
 
III. Reform and Opening-up and China’s Innovations on Human Rights Theories
 
China’s concept of human rights has a long history. Since the start of reform and opening-up, China’s human rights theories have witnessed innovative breakthroughs and development. Regarding the reform and opening-up and China’s innovation on human rights theories, experts and scholars expressed their views.
 
Professor Fu Zitang, President of Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Vice President of China Society of Human Rights Studies, analyzed the equality issues in the theoretical studies of human rights over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, including such ideas as “everyone is equal before the law” and “market economy and legal equality.” In his opinion, in 1978, the academic circle broke through the forbidden zone of theoretical studies with the idea “everyone is equal before the law,” and raised a great discussion on some major legal issues including legal equality. Since reform and opening-up was fist initiated 40 years ago, the relevant studies had developed from the ideological disputes deeply influenced by class discourse, to the abstract theoretical research with weaker influence of class discourse, and to the practice turn that became more technical and specific – in this process, “change” seemed to be the basic track of the research on legal equality. However, in this changing situation, something remained unchanged. The consistent practice had been the studies on legislative equality that lasted for 40 years. The consistency was better demonstrated by the unchanged logic that theoretical studies should echo social development and the changing times.
 
Professor Ye Chuanxing from the Law School of Renmin University of China analyzed the theoretical innovation of human rights in China from the perspective of knowledge sociology. In his opinion, since the launch of reform and opening-up, the theoretical innovation of human rights had four general characteristics: practice based on reform and opening-up, co-use and coexistence of multidisciplinary methods and theoretical resources, coexistence of multiple theoretical narration methods, and inter-weaving of theory, politics and technology. The fundamental logic of theoretical innovation regarding human rights was the interaction between theory and practice. It was the great practice of reform and opening-up that promoted theoretical innovation. In the context of interaction between theory and practice, there were three specific logic clues of human rights innovation. First, the interaction between governmental and non-governmental personnel. Two kinds of human rights discourses interested and learned from each other. Second, the internal and external interaction. Through the integration of Chinese and foreign factors, human rights theory gradually witnessed more and more innovations in the interaction between domestic and international situations. Third, the interaction between ideology and technology.
 
Professor Zhang Yonghe, Executive Director of the Human Rights Institute of Southwest University of Political Science and Law proposed that “a better life” was the fourth-generation appeal for human rights. In his view, in the past 40 years and more, the world economy had grown by more than three times. Globalization had promoted the world’s economic, social and cultural progress, benefiting billions of people around the world. But at the same time, the turbulent international situation also posed challenges to human rights development worldwide. Therefore, the right of every member of the international community to enjoy “a better life” had become the inevitable demand of everyone. If the contents of the former three generations of human rights had been recognized by the documents of UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Declaration of Right to Development, then, among the three generations of human rights appeals, in addition to the specific contents of the rights, the United Nations also recognized the right to development, which became a basic right as an approach to achieve other rights. However, the acquisition of the right to development must have its own target, and the target should be “a better life.” Therefore, the right to “a better life” has become a realistic human right. It refers not only to economic, social and cultural rights, but also to civil and political rights. It included not only the material “hard demand,” but also the non-material and institutional “soft demand” of democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice.
 
Professor Li Zhongxia, Deputy Dean of the Law School of Shandong University, made an investigation on the study of Constitution in China after the reform and opening-up. In his opinion, the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up would become a new starting point for the comparative study of Constitution. The trend of localization would be more obvious in the study of Constitution in the future. But this did not mean that the comparative study of the Constitution had lost its significance; on the contrary, this put forward higher requirements for comparative study. First, comparative study was still necessary. Second, we should realize what problems can be used for reference, and what cannot be used for reference. Third, the comparative study of the Constitution should not stay at the transplantation of superficial features, but needed to go deep into the history, social background and cultural conditions of the corresponding countries, so as to find the decisive basis for China’s Constitution. Finally, the comparative study of the Constitution should also focus on the comparison of methodology.
 
Tu Shaobin, Associate Professor at the Law School of South-Central University for Nationalities, suggested that economic analysis should be used to specify and implement the Marxist concept of human rights. He pointed out that a common human rights discourse was a very important dimension for China, which had entered a new era of reform and opening-up and proposes building a community with a shared future with the rest of the world. He believes that the design of the human rights system and the realization of human rights goals are faced with different options. Since economics essentially seeks to maximize selection efficiency of human behavior under the constraint of limited resources, the nature of human rights system design and the realization of human rights goals must also be economic behavior. The most fundamental methodology of Marxism is to seek truth from facts. In economic terms, this methodology means to build different models according to different variables. The American economist Gray S. Becker’s economic analysis framework had technical importance and value neutrality. Marxism and the economic analysis logic for human rights were commensurable. Western liberal methodology and system design for human rights could not stand up to the scrutiny of economic analysis, nor could they stand up to the test of empirical logic. Economic analysis could build a more commensurable and unified methodology for China’s human rights theory-building, help strengthen the discourse and competitiveness of China’s human rights programs, and serve China’s solution of a community with a shared future for human beings.
 
IV. Reform and Opening-up and China’s Achievements in Human Rights Practice
 
Since the beginning of reform and opening-up, the Chinese people have developed from being poor to having enough to eat and wear, and to lead a moderately prosperous life in general and in all respects. The Chinese people are entering a new era of human rights featured by the pursuit of a better life. Remarkable achievements have been made in the human rights cause of China. In this regard, the participating experts and scholars made full discussions on the experience and achievements of China’s human rights development, the protection of human rights for special groups, and the achievements of practice in various fields of human rights.
 
A. Experience and achievements
 
Wang Xigen, Executive Director of the Human Rights Institute of Wuhan University, Yangtze river scholars Distinguished Professor of the Ministry of Education, and UN expert on the right to development, said that China had made great achievements in human rights over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, which are mainly reflected in the following aspects: China has explored and gradually formed a path for the development of human rights under socialism with Chinese characteristics. China has been the first country in the world to put forward the innovative assertion that the rights to subsistence and the right to development are the primary basic human rights. Great innovations have been made in the scientific meaning, basic composition, internal logic, theoretical basis, practical strategy and operational mode of the rights to subsistence and the right to development, and a socialist theoretical system of human rights with Chinese characteristics had been gradually formed. China has created a systematic and complete system of human rights protection with Chinese characteristics and made its own contributions to the related cooperation and development of human rights in the world. China’s human rights cause has made rapid progress in the past 40 years, and the most basic experience was that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the people are masters of the country. Based on its national conditions, China has carried out reform and opening-up, and successfully blazed a path for the development of human rights under socialism with Chinese characteristics. Through the great practice of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realizing the Two Centenary Goals, China’s human rights protection has entered a new era and will surely enter a new realm and reach a new height.
 
Yao Kun, Assistant Director and Associate Researcher at the Institute of World Politics of the China Institute of Modern International Relations, summarized the concepts and practice of the right to development of China. She believes that the right to development was China’s major contribution to the international human rights theory and system. As the global leader in sustainable development, China has set a good example for the world with its practice in the field. In the future, China should continue to commit to eliminating poverty and improving people’s livelihoods, further emphasize the right to development, call for strengthening the special mechanism for the right to development at the international level, and attach importance to summarizing and sharing its experiences regarding the right to development.
 
Based on the empirical analysis of sociology, Associate Professor Gui Xiaowei of the Sociology Department of Wuhan University demonstrated in great detail the protection and implementation of citizens’ rights to subsistence and the right to development, economic, social and cultural rights, civil and political rights, and the rights of special groups in China. Full and detailed data confirmed the miracle of the development of China’s human rights cause since the reform and opening-up. He said that at the end of 1978, a new set of strategic plans for economic and political reform were officially announced and implemented, and China embarked on a new road of development and a new journey of rapid development of human rights construction and constant improvement of human rights protection. The road of China’s reform and opening-up was the road of human rights building.
 
B. Human rights protection on special groups
 
Tang Yong, Associate Professor at the Law School of Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, discussed the achievements and prospects of the practice of the right to development of ethnic minorities. He analyzed the legal guarantee of the right to development of ethnic minorities and the achievements made in the practice of the rights to economic development, political development, social development, and cultural development since the reform and opening-up began. He said that in order to realize the right to development for ethnic minorities in the new era, progress should be made in implementing the strategy of coordinated regional development, strengthening the building of deliberative democracy, completing the task of targeted poverty alleviation, improving the system of public cultural services, and accelerating the con-struction of an ecological civilization system.
 
Qian Yewei, Consultant in the Law and Regulation Office of the Rights and Interests Department of the All-China Women’s Federation, reviewed and summarized the legislation and practice of anti-domestic violence in China in combination with the work of the All-China Women’s Federation. She pointed out that fighting against domestic violence was an inevitable requirement for respecting and protecting human rights, and promoting family harmony and social progress. The enactment of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law at the end of 2015 complied with this need, demonstrated the CPC and the government’s firm position and consistent stance of respecting and protecting human rights and opposing domestic violence, and provided a strong legal basis for safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of victims and preventing and stopping domestic violence.
 
Yao Di, Staff Member from the International Department of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, summed up the human rights practice regarding the disabled in China. She pointed out that for the cause of the disabled in China, the government paid attention to combining human rights protection with social development. By developing undertakings for the disabled and providing equal public services for the disabled, China had ensured that the disabled actually enjoyed a wide range of rights and promoted their equal sharing of the fruits of economic and social development. In terms of international cooperation, China had turned from a follower, side-by-side runner to a leader. China had built up a network of foreign exchanges that took the United Nations and related agencies, major neighboring countries and major international organizations for the disabled as the core, and important international confer-ences and regional cooperation as the platform. China’s 85 million disabled people’s human rights had made significant progress, which had won the affirmation of the international community.
 
C. Achievements in various fields of human rights
 
Mi Feng, Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of the National Health Commission, made a special discussion on the realization of universal health care coverage under socialism with Chinese characteristics regarding people’s right to health. He pointed out that the universal health care coverage system of socialism with Chinese characteristics has a solid institutional foundation and strong institutional superiority. For better implementation of universal health care coverage, we need to promote the transition from a “disease treatment-centered approach” to “people’s health-centered approach.” We also needed to expand the borders of maintaining the health of the people from the traditional disease prevention and control to ecological environment protection, sports and fitness, occupational safety, accident harm, food and drug safety, and many other fields, and integrate “health” into all our policies.
 
Professor Zhu Liyu, Executive Director of Human Rights Research Center of Renmin University of China, and Consultant of China Society for Human Rights Studies combined legislative planning with targeted poverty alleviation. He thought that the great achievements China had made in poverty alleviation could not live without its national plans for economic and social development that it had long insisted in making and implementation, which had been regarded as an important way to solve the problem of poverty. The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) had completed the transition from the “policy preference” in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period to the “combination of policy preference with targeted poverty alleviation.” The newly added provisions on legislative planning in the Legislative Law were of great legal significance for ensuring poverty alleviation via legal means and for better implementation of targeted poverty alleviation.
 
Professor Yang Guang, former Party Secretary of Dongbei University of Finance and Economics and Consultant of China Society for Human Rights Studies, made a profound analysis on rehabilitation and end-of-life care, both very practical issues in the development of human rights. He said that rehabilitation and end-of-life issues were practical issues in the development of human rights, which were groundbreak-ing and challenging. There were many human rights issues between rehabilitation and end-of-life care, which involved new ideological and practical issues like human nature, personality, and dignity. They urgently needed responding. The discussion and answers to these questions were complicated and difficult, but they were of great significance to the sound development of the human rights cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
 
Professor Ji Yaping, Dean of the Administrative Law Department of Northwest University of Politics and Law discussed the public participation in administrative decision-making. He said that in recent years, China’s public participation in adminis-trative decision-making had made some progress, but there were still many problems. For example, the participants were not clear; the right to decision-making motions was absent; the scope of participation was not clear; the ways of participation were relatively simple; and the public opinion was not fully respected. Public participation in administrative decision-making needed to be legalized. Therefore, we should examine the gain and loss of public participation in administrative decision-making in China and build a mechanism of public participation in administrative decision-making as soon as possible.3
 
V. Reform and Opening-up and the Development of Global Human Rights Cause
 
Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has taken an active part in international cooperation and exchanges on human rights. China’s foreign development assistance has grown in scale and level, and has won the praise of many other developing countries, as well as the United Nations. Important contributions have been made to the development of human rights in the world. In this regard, the participating experts and scholars carried out indepth discussions from the perspectives of progress in practice and theoretical expression.
 
A. Progress in practice
 
Centering on the reform of global human rights governance, Chen Shiqiu, member of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Consultant of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, first gave a summary review of the serious distortion of the global human rights governance concepts and practices over the past 70 years, and summarized the positive aspects of reform. He criticized the one-sided, narrow and selfish human rights concepts and double standards on human rights of the West, recognized the importance of rectifying and balancing human rights concepts, as well as the importance of establishing human rights committees and reforming the human rights convention mechanism for global human rights governance. China’s proposal of “building a community with a shared future for human beings” had entered the international human rights theory system. The ideas of “development for human rights,” “health for human rights,” “dialogue for human rights,” “peace for human rights” and “cooperation for human rights” advocated by China had also been included in the relevant resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council. The international appeal of China’s human rights development path and successful practices was growing, and China was beginning to play a leading role in global human rights governance. China’s stance philosophy, solution and experience in human rights development would make a major contribution to global human rights governance.
 
Wang Ying, First Secretary of the International Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, summarized China’s participation in international human rights cooperation since the start of reform and opening-up 40 years ago. She pointed out that we must see that the situation of the international competition on human rights had not changed fundamentally. The North was strong and offensive, while the South was still weak and defensive. China had a structural problem with the Western countries on the issue of human rights. The competition between the two sides was the competition of paths, systems and values. With the growing strength of China, this structural problem will only become more prominent. Based on 40 years of reform, opening-up and development, China had gradually become stronger and more proactive in its competition against the Western in human rights. We must remain resolute and firmly believe that China’s human rights development path was in the best interests of China’s national conditions and the Chinese people. We needed to continue to build major diplomatic concepts and put them into practice in the United Nations and other organizations, promote our successful experience in poverty reduction and the disabled, and gradually change the situation in which the United States and other Western countries had a monopoly on human rights and dominated the international human rights agenda. At the same time, we should do a good job in human rights work at home to meet people’s growing needs for a better life and enhance their sense of gain.
 
Fan Guifen, Division Director of the Office for Management of International Exchange and Coordination of Chinese Social Organizations of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, summarized how social organizations could contribute to the development of domestic human rights and promote international human rights cooperation. She believed that China’s social organizations were not only actively committed to promoting economic and social development at home, but also carried out extensive international exchanges and cooperation, which had become an important highlight in the development of China’s human rights cause. She also shared with the experts and scholars at the meeting her thoughts and suggestions on how to give full play to the advantages of the civil society, properly tell stories about China’s human rights from the perspective of the people, and build a civil human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics.
 
Zhang Guixuan, Deputy Division Director of the Special Department of Com-prehensive Operations of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, reviewed the reality of China’s foreign aid work, and made a detailed summary of the important achievements of China’s foreign aid work since the 18th CPC National Congress. In his view, major aid initiatives demonstrated China’s strong commitment; foreign aid for people’s livelihood had benefited recipient countries; aid construction of major projects had promoted the Belt and Road construction; foreign aid trainings helped recipient countries enhance their capacity for independent development; emergency humanitarian assistance also reflected China’s moral principles.
 
Zhang Guobin, Secretary-General of the Chahar Society, elaborated on China’s human rights development and international influence since the reform and opening-up. He attributed China’s steady progress in human rights development to several factors. In his view, political stability had laid a foundation for the development of human rights in China. Economic development had provided impetus for the development of human rights in China. Cultural prosperity had enriched the content of China’s human rights development. Social stability had provided an environment for the development of human rights in China. The sound legal system had guaranteed China’s human rights. International exchanges and cooperation had created opportunities for China’s human rights development. China opposed the Western hegemonic concept of human rights, and actively promoted the development of international human rights in the direction of fairness and justice. It had set a good example regarding the protection of human rights for developing countries, and had made positive contributions to the development of international human rights.
 
Professor Luo Yanhua from the School of International Relations of Peking University elaborated on the process of China’s participation in international human rights cooperation in four stages after the reform and opening-up. She analyzed China’s specific practices, main characteristics and major achievements in international human rights cooperation and exchanges at different stages. She said that it was the implementation of the reform and opening-up policy that had promoted China’s participation in international human rights cooperation. Each new stage of reform and opening-up would also bring China’s participation in international human rights cooperation and exchanges to a new high. The establishment of the multisectoral cooperation group in 1980, the first White Paper on Human Rights published in 1991, the inclusion of human rights in the Constitution in 2004, and the concept of a community with a shared future for human beings put forward in 2013 were all landmark events in China’s participation in international cooperation and exchanges on human rights in the context of reform and opening-up.
 
B. Theoretical expression
 
Professor Wang Lifeng of the Department of Political Science and Law of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee shared an innovative analysis on the con-struction of the community with a shared future for human beings. He believed that the community with a shared future for human beings proposed by China needed to respond to the moral and political dilemmas facing human rights around the world. The concept of human rights in the community with a shared future for humankind should focus on the moral global ideal of human rights, while being based on feasibility, emphasizing the universality, openness, inclusiveness and feasibility of human rights. In terms of moral construction, we should establish the basic human rights list with priority given to the rights to life and development, and set the principle of obligation based on justice, political legitimacy and ability. In terms of political construction, the significance of nation-state should be emphasized, and a responsible state based on domestic and international legitimacy should be constructed.
 
Professor Mao Junxiang, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at Central South University, demonstrated that reform and opening-up was an important driver of China’s participation in international human rights governance. He said that reform and opening-up had freed China’s mind, established its identity, provided practical support, constructed distinctive discourse, and enhanced its capacity for changes as China sought to participate in international human rights governance. It was precisely because of reform and opening-up that China had been able to make important contributions to the cause of international peace and development, especially the cause of international human rights, while enjoying rapid development of its overall national strength. This was also the significance in a global sense of reform and opening-up.
 
Professor Xu Yawen from the School of Law of Wuhan University focused on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the significance of improving the protection mechanism of the Declaration. He proposed that the Declaration had the functions of legitimacy and justification concerning human rights. The Declaration should be taken seriously. We should not only see the great significance of the Declaration, but also see that the Declaration was a soft law in nature. He therefore suggested that the principles of human rights should be embedded in China’s legal system; on the basis of international human rights standards, we should give consideration to human rights legislation, and build human rights protection institutions; we should popularize and implement the Declaration on Human Rights (white paper) and promote national human rights action plans; and we should promote human rights education for all and transform the Declaration from a commitment to action for all.
 
Wu Wenyang, Lecturer at the Institute for Human Rights of China University of Political Science and Law summed up China’s achievements in actively promoting and implementing the right to development since the reform and opening up. At the international level, China supported and participated in the Declaration on the Right to Development, and initiated and contributed to the Beijing Declaration, which made important contributions to further promoting the right to development and strengthen-ing South-South cooperation. At the domestic level, China was constantly enriching and deepening its understanding of the right to development, exploring a development path suited to its national conditions, and earnestly ensuring the realization of the right to development with Chinese characteristics. She believed that China’s experience and achievements in the right to development would contribute to the further development and implementation of this human right in China and beyond.
 
VI. Conclusion
 
In his closing speech, Fu Zitang, President of Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Vice President of China Society for Human Rights Studies, spoke highly of the seminar and its achievements. He said that the seminar had distinctive themes and was convened at the right time. It was a good preparation at the academic level for the large-scale commemoration of the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in the second half of 2018. President Fu said that the participants came from various disciplines and various departments of theory studies and practice. Their reports and speeches were informative and indepth, and could be said to have formed the six-point “Wuhan Consensus” for the development and progress of China’s human rights cause. First, respecting and protecting human rights as the constitutional principle and the spirit of the CPC Party Constitution had been confirmed. Second, human rights thoughts and theories should advance with the times. Third, a relatively complete system of human rights protection had been established. Fourth, remarkable achievements had been made in human rights protection and development. Fifth, a human rights development path suited to China’s national conditions had been taken. Sixth, the global human rights cause had been promoted by China.
 
Ambassador Shen Yongxiang, Vice President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, said in his closing speech that he had been engaged in human rights-related foreign affairs for a long time, and had to face every day the attacks of the West on China concerning human rights issues. However, he did not think their arguments had their grounds. In fact, by combining the cause of human rights with China’s national conditions, China had given priority to the rights to life and development, and had taken strong steps to promote and protect human rights. China’s achievements in various human rights undertakings were far more than those of other countries with the same per capita GDP as China. The papers and speeches in this seminar had fully demonstrated that. Adhering to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, he hoped to take this seminar as an opportunity strengthen the commitment to doing a better job in telling China’s stories on human rights and writing China’s papers and articles on human rights as researchers continued their studies in the future, so as to contribute wisdom to the further development of human rights in China.
 
* WANG Xigen ( 汪习根 ), Executive Director of the Human Rights Institute of Wuhan University; Yangtze river Scholars Distinguished Professor; United Nations expert on the right to development; China “2011 Pro-gram” Judicial Collaborative Innovation Center; Ph.D. supervisor.
 
**CHEN Yan ( 陈艳 ), Ph.D. Candidate 2017, School of Law, Wuhan University. We would like to express our gratitude to Professor Liao Yi, Lecturer He Miao of Wuhan University, and Ph.D. students Chen Xiaoxiao, Zhu Chengbin, Li Huimin, Run Lidong, Peng Xia, Li Linfang, and Zhang Yongjun for their hard work in col-lecting and arranging papers and summarizing views for this seminar, and to Professor Teng Rui of Huazhong University of Science and Technology for collecting and arranging all papers.
 
1. Li Erping, “Positive Interaction between Economic Development and Human Rights Protection in the Process of Reform and Opening up,” Guangming Daily, August 4, 2018.
 
2. Chen Youwu and Li Buyun, “The Historical Development of the Relationship Between the Rule of Law and Human Rights Since the Reform and Opening Up,” Modern Law Science 2 (2015).
 
3. Ji Yaping, “Studies on Public Participation in Administrative Decision-making Procedures,” Zhejiang Aca-demic Journal 3 (2012).
 
(Translated by CHEN Feng)
Chinese Dictionary:

@cn_humanrights

For the latest news and analysis from our

reporters and editors:Staff Twitter List>>

E-mail:chinahrs@public.bta.net.cn