Taking the Path of Poverty Reduction with Chinese Characteristics to Promote New Progress in China’s Human Rights — A Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Beijing Forum on Human Rights
May 17,2019   By:CSHRS
Taking the Path of Poverty Reduction with Chinese Characteristics
to Promote New Progress in Chinas Human Rights

A Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Beijing Forum on Human Rights
Qiangba Puncog*
The 2018 Beijing Forum on Human Rights opens on this wonderful autumn day. On behalf of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, I wish to express warm congratulations on the opening of the forum and a sincere welcome to all guests from home and abroad.

The theme of the forum, “Poverty Eradication: Seeking Common Development to Build a Community of Shared Future for Human Beings”, has great practical significance. President Xi Jinping has pointed out that “poverty eradication” has been the ideal of human beings since ancient times and the basic right of people all over the world in the pursuit of a happy life.” Poverty is a worldwide phenomenon and a common issue related to development facing the international community. Among the 17 goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the first one is “poverty eradication in all its forms everywhere.” Widespread poverty has seriously hampered the full realization and enjoyment of human rights. Poverty reduction and elimination are important parts of human rights protection. If their basic subsistence cannot be guaranteed, those in poverty do not have safe food, housing and drinking water, basic medical services, or education opportunities, let alone defend their personal dignity and exercise their civil and political rights to achieve self-development. Poverty eradication is a systematic social project which requires coordinated improvement of economic, social and cultural rights as well as protection and realization of civil and political rights.

It is an essential requirement of socialism and an important mission of the Communist Party of China to eradicate poverty, improve people’s lives, and realize common prosperity. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, the Communist Party of China and Chinese government have persisted in prioritizing the right to subsistence and the right to development of the people based on the basic conditions in the country and spared no efforts in poverty reduction and eradication. A path of development-oriented poverty reduction with Chinese characteristics has been found in the process of exploration and practice. With a strong sense of mission and great political responsibility, President Xi Jinping has paid special attention to poverty reduction and stressed that “we should not leave behind any poverty-stricken family or any poverty-stricken people on the path of poverty reduction.” The poverty-stricken population in rural China fell from 770 million in 1978 to 30.46 million in 2017, with the incidence of poverty dropping from 97.5 percent to 3.1 percent. Over 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, which represents over 70 percent of the total world figure. With the highest number of people lifted out of poverty, China is the first country to realize the UN Millennium Development Goals around the world.

China’s poverty reduction achievements are thus a glorious chapter in the history of the poverty elimination efforts. Nevertheless, the Chinese government is keenly aware that the poverty situation in the country remains grave and complex. Considering the task of poverty reduction, about 30 million poverty-stricken people in rural areas should be lifted out of poverty in the next three years. The 19th CPC National Congress defined targeted poverty eradication as one of the three crucial battles in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and made new arrangements for it. In August 2018, the Three-Year Guideline of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Winning the Battle Against Poverty was issued. It is the solemn commitment of the CPC to win the battle against poverty, help all the rural population living below the current poverty standard shake off poverty and all poverty-stricken counties out of poverty by the year 2020 and ensure that poverty-stricken population and impoverished areas will join the moderately prosperous society together with the rest of the country, which is a great undertaking of great significance to the Chinese nation and entire human race. China’s poverty reduction actions also manifest the fulfillment of its commitment to the UN development goals and its international human rights obligations.

China’s poverty reduction practice and the corresponding path of poverty reduction with Chinese characteristics embody rich concepts of human rights.

First, China has adhered to the protection of human rights in terms of development goals. The Chinese government has always prioritized the protection of the right to subsistence and the right to development of the people for realizing all-round development. Adhering to the principle that all rights are interconnected and inseparable, China has taken such measures as poverty reduction through the development of local industries, education, and healthcare, through the development and conservation of local ecological resources, through the providing of subsistence allowances, and through the promotion of the participation of poverty-stricken population in political life. Covering resources allocation, infrastructure construction, policy support, industrial development, ecological protection, capacity improvement, social security, and other aspects, these interconnected measures provide comprehensive protection for the basic rights of the poverty-stricken population, including the right to subsistence, development, education, health, social security, and political participation. The good situation of coordinated development of poverty reduction and human rights protection has taken shape.

Second, China has brought the internal driving force of the people fully into play in terms of the subject of development. The driving force of the people is the foundation of poverty reduction. China has paid attention to the principal position of the objects of poverty reduction, stressed the combination of “blood transfusion” and “blood generating”, helped people increase confidence in their own ability to lift themselves out of poverty, and ensured that they can access the education they need to do so. China has made full use of the potential of the poverty-stricken population, aroused their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity, and cultivated their skills for production, work, and doing business. By encouraging and guiding them to eradicate poverty through self-reliance and hard work, China has promoted poverty reduction with the internal driving force of the people.
Third, China has followed the value guideline of equality and fairness in terms of the direction of development. Focusing on the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life in the new era, China has centered in on the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development in development-oriented poverty reduction. China has endeavored to ensure and improve people’s well-being and emphasized equal rights, equal opportunities, and fair rules in the process of development. China has continuously enhanced the protection of human rights under the rule of law to ensure that all people enjoy the rights to equal participation and equal development, and all people share the gains of reform and development, so as to achieve shared prosperity for everyone.

Fourth, China has highlighted the adjustment and innovation of institutional mechanisms in the process of development. In the process of poverty alleviation, China has considered its basic conditions and taken multiple measures covering legislation, planning, and policymaking. Adhering to the combination of inclusive policies with preferential policies, China has launched a series of policies for poverty alleviation, covering industrial development, employment assistance, education resources investment, medical and healthcare system reform, environmental and ecological protection, subsistence allowances, and coordinated development of the western and eastern regions. China has paid attention to institutional innovation and adjustment of social interests in the distribution mechanism for promoting the balanced and coordinated development of poverty alleviation and other aspects of social development.

It is the integral part of a Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings as well as the wonderful vision portrayed in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to eradicate poverty, protect human rights, and achieve common development. In response to the challenges of current world like prominent instability and uncertainty, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and continuously and growing non-traditional security threats, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the important ideas of building a Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings and called on the people of all countries to work together to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity. Although governments of all countries should bear the primary responsibility for eradicating poverty, the international community should work together, strengthen international cooperation and take active measures to safeguard international and regional peace, eliminate various obstacles to development worldwide, build a Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings, and realize common development and prosperity.

The 2018 Beijing Forum on Human Rights provides an excellent platform for all participants to exchange experiences in poverty alleviation, explore ways for the poor to escape poverty, and improve the international development environment. It is hoped that we can talk freely, learn from each other, and reach consensus. Through in-depth summarization of the successful experience in poverty alleviation actions in China and other countries, we can form new theories and use them to guide poverty alleviation actions and human rights protection worldwide, so as to realize the good vision of “let all people share the gains of development, fully enjoy human rights, and realize all-round development” as soon as possible.

(Translated by HU Liang)

* Qiangba Puncog ( 向巴平措 ), Vice-Chairman of 12th NPC Standing Committee of China, President of China Society for Human Rights Studies.

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