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Historical Conditions and Experiences Summary of China’s Human Rights Development Path Since the Founding of the PRC
October 25,2019   By:CSHRS

Historical Conditions and Experiences Summary of China’s Human Rights Development Path Since the Founding of the PRC

TANG Yingxia*

Abstract: Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the path of human rights development in China has been based on national liberation and state sovereignty. The practice of human rights protection in the 30 years before the launch of reform and opening-up accumulated the conditions for the practice after the launch of reform and opening-up. Reform and opening-up have provided the great motivation and opportunity for the development of human rights in China. Against the background of international practice, China’s human rights development path, since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, has been developed in the fight against human rights diplomacy that interferes in China’s internal affairs with human rights used as a political tool. It has gone through the process from evasion to passive counterattacks, and then actively participating and playing a leading role. The 70 years’ development of human rights in China shows that human rights progress is highly dependent on the country’s construction of the rule of law, and the coordinated and comprehensive promotion of human rights protection policies promotes the overall progress of the human rights. In order to promote human rights with development, the transition from the top-down path to the combination of top-down and down-top path is suggested.

Keywords: the People’s Republic of China; the path of human rights development; historical conditions; summary of experiences

In the 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the human rights protection cause in China has proceeded with twists and turns. But the powerful leadership of the Communist Party of China has brought order out of chaos and remarkable achievements have been made in China’s human rights cause.1

I. The Historical Progress and Driving Force for the Development of Human Rights in the People’s Republic of China

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese Government has combined the universal principles of human rights with the specific national conditions of China, and made every effort to promote and protect human rights. The destiny of the Chinese people has witnessed earthshaking changes, and the historical development of China’s human rights cause has been realized.

A. The founding of the People’s Republic of China was the first human rights liberation in the Chinese history

The path of human rights development since the founding of the People’s Republic of China originated from national liberation and independence of state sovereignty. The 1991 White Paper Human Rights in China pointed out that in imperial China, there was no protection of people’s right to life because of the invasion of imperialism and the oppression of feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism; many people died because of wars, hunger or the cold. In the 110 years from 1840 to 1949, imperialist powers such as Britain, France, Japan, America and Russia successively waged large or small scale wars resulting in the uncountable loss of life and property.2 The CPC led the Chinese people to fight hard for over 20 years and to ultimately achieve the victory of the new-democratic revolution. In foreign affairs, the unequal treaties signed with Western imperialist countries and the various privileges that invading powers enjoyed in China were abolished; in domestic issues, land reform was launched and a people’s democratic dictatorship was founded. Thus people were liberated and became the masters of the nation, enjoying civil rights and the freedom to determine their own destiny.3

The founding of the People’s Republic of China realized the independence and sovereignty of the country, and provided conditions for various human rights that the Chinese people enjoy. First, the Common Program of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference passed in 1949 stipulated clearly that the regime of the country belongs to the people, and People’s Governments at all levels elected by the people are the administrations for the people to exercise state power; according to the law, people enjoy the right to vote and stand for election as well as freedom of thought, speech, assembly, publication, association, communication, personal residence, migration, religious belief and demonstration. After the promulgation of the Electoral Law in 1953, the first nationwide general election was held in the Chinese history, and people enjoy the political rights to govern the country and comprehensive personal freedom. Second, the Land Reform Law was passed by the People’s Government Central Committee in 1950, abolishing the feudal land system; over 300 million farmers have been given land. Third, the Marriage Law was promulgated in 1951 to implement the right to freedom of marriage, monogamy, gender equality, and protection of rights of women and children. Fourth, the People’s Republic of China’s first Constitution was formulated in 1954, enshrining the principles of people’s sovereignty and equality, and implementing the regional autonomy of ethnic minorities and protecting the interests of ethnic minorities. The 1954 Constitution specifically stipulated civilians’ fundamental rights and obligations including political rights, personal rights, social and economic rights and cultural rights, as well as the protection of minority groups.

According to the 1991 White Paper Human Rights in China, the founding of the People’s Republic of China eradicated imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism in mainland China, ended the humiliating history of invasion and oppression that had occurred over a century and the chaotic situation of long-time warfare and disorder. The independence and unification of the country that people dreamed of were realized; the Chinese nation which accounts for one quarter of the total human population is no longer a nation of arbitrary slaughter and insult, and the Chinese peo-ple have stood up as the owners of the country and for the first time truly enjoy personal dignity. This achievements have won the respect of the world. The life security of the Chinese people has been fundamentally ensured since then.4 In this sense, the founding of the People’s Republic of China can be regarded as the first human rights liberation in Chinese history. The historical background of the founding of the People’s Republic of China objectively determines that China put the right of subsistence and right of development in the primary position, and then explores the path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics.

In the 30 years before the reform and opening-up, the People’s Republic of China was building socialism on the basis of long-term warfare and extreme poverty. First, it endured a three-year period of recovery after the civil war; after the three major transformations, it entered a period of building socialist state system. In exploring socialist construction, we endured the Great Leap Forward, the movement to form rural people’s communes and suffered the debts of Soviet Union and the three years of natural disaster. Especially during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), socialist democracy and rule of law endured severe destruction, national institutions were unable to operate normally, the political, economic and personal rights of the masses, cadres and national leaders were seriously infringed upon, the natural order of production and society was disrupted, development of the national economy was suffocated, and the development of China’s human rights cause encountered harsh setbacks.

When the country was suffering from chaos and disorder, the new Constitution was passed at the Fourth National People’s Congress held in 1975. This version did not strictly follow legal procedure, and the contents and regulations of human rights protection regressed quite a lot compared to the 1954 Constitution.5 This is reflected in the following aspects: first, the scope of the ensured human rights shrank greatly, and some rights with great significance were not included in the Constitution; second, there were no provision for the country to provide material and spiritual support for ensuring people’s rights; in the chapter “People’s fundamental rights and Obligations”, the obligations were put before the rights, which revealed a regression in the guiding concepts; third, there were some terms which were totally against the spirit of human rights; fourth, most rights retained in the provisions of the Constitution were unable to be ensured in practice.

The Cultural Revolution was a calamity in the Chinese history of human rights, which delivered painful lessons for the human rights cause. These lessons and people’s introspection accumulated conditions for human rights cause in China after the launch of reform and opening-up.

B. Reform and opening-up provide a huge driving force and opportunity for China’s human rights cause development

The path of human rights development of the People’s Republic of China has not always proceeded smoothly. There have been setbacks, stagnation and even regression. All these lessons and subsequent introspection accumulated conditions for the progress of the human rights cause in China after the launch of reform and opening-up.

In 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee concluded historical experiences and lessons, brought order out of chaos, established the ideological line of freeing people’s minds and seeking the truth from the facts, and realized the second human rights liberation in Chinese history. From the rehabilitation of wrongful convictions and recovery of political rights of persecuted civilians to the amendment of the Constitution and protection of civilians’ political rights, from the development of the economy and protection of people’s right to subsistence and right to development to the overall planning of economic and social development and the improvement of people’s economic, social and cultural rights, from getting rid of various mental restrictions on human rights issues to putting “respecting and ensuring human rights” into the reports to congresses of party representatives, the Constitution, the economic and social development planning and the Party Constitution.6 China’s human rights cause development ushered in a new historical opportunity.

The launch of reform and opening-up greatly liberated and developed social productive forces, successfully opened up the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics and revealed a new chapter in the development of China’s human rights cause.7 The launch of reform and opening-up and the establishment of a socialist market economy provided a profound material foundation for the development of China’s human rights cause, while cultivating people’s sense and awareness of human rights; and people’s demands for economic, social and cultural rights and the right to participate in public affairs increased. As a result, the demand for the socialist market economy to ensure fundamental individual human rights has impelled the expansion of the social normative system, which gradually includes the demand of respecting and ensuring individual human rights.8

On the other hand, the market economy system has led to the diversification of interest patterns and demands. The demands for individual rights have continually grown in the socialist market economy and pushed China’s human rights protection to develop from centering on policy documents to the rule of law, including not only a large amount of legislation on human rights and law enforcement protection and judicial relief, but also the gradual empowerment of human rights protection in the law enforcement and judicial processes.9

In the 40 years of reform and opening-up, the sense of achievement, happiness and security of the Chinese people have increased remarkably, China’s human rights cause has achieved huge success, and the Chinese people have never enjoyed so many rights as we own today.10

II. The International Background Faced by the People’s Republic of China’s Human Rights Development

Since its founding, the People’s Republic of China has confronted a complex and continually changing international situation, which, to some extent, has influence the formation and development of Chinese human rights ideals and policies.

A. Cold War and opposition

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, even before tasting victory and peace, the international society broke into two opposing sides and entered a 44-year-long Cold War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed at the general assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, which established a “common standard for states and nations” was violated and destroyed, and gradually reduced into a “menu of rights” of different countries according to their own wills and needs during the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union could not resist making the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an arsenal of political weapons: they both extracted terms and provisions that they favored from the texts but ignored the rest.11 Human rights issues were misunderstood and abused; on the one hand, human rights became an excuse for Western countries to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries; on the other, Western countries exercised a double standard on human rights issues, regarding the Western model as the only standard in the field of human rights. For example, the United States publishes its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices every year which claim the human rights situation in China is steadily deteriorating. The 1991 White Paper Human Rights in China issued by the Chinese Government declares that China makes a stand against any country that abuses human rights issues as a means to spread their own values, ideology, political standards and development patterns, and to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, especially developing countries, using the excuse of human rights to damage the sovereignty and dignity of many developing countries.12 The Cold War ended people’s expectations of the bright future described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the formation and advance of the international human rights legal system afterwards were forced to be governed separately. Under such circumstances, it is not hard to understand why China specifically emphasizes the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other countries and opposes the use of human rights issues for this purpose.

B. From evasion to mild attempt

The United States and other Western countries also manipulate international organizations like the United Nations to attack China using human rights issues. In 1959, 1961 and 1965, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed resolutions three times on Tibet, advocating China “stop depriving the people in Tibet of their basic human rights and freedom”, which directly attacked the Chinese Government. China was forced to adopt an attitude of high vigilance and exclusion in human rights issues under such international circumstances.13 During this period, the standpoint and attitude of China in human rights issues were mainly reflected in its attention to right to national self-determination, and in the support it extended to the national liberation movements in Asian, African and Latin American countries.

Before attending the election of the 1981 United Nations Human Rights Committee and being elected a member in 1982, China avoided discussing human rights issues in international meetings as much as possible. In the first eight years after joining the Committee, China united with other developing countries to stand against hegemony and realized the close connection between the struggles of human rights and diplomacy, aiming at then hot issues of human rights in South Africa, Palestine, Afghanistan, Cambodia, etc.14

C. Play a positive role after the founding of the United Nations Human Rights Council

After the Soviet Union and the Fall of Communism in 1989, Western countries put hegemony and power politics into force in the name of “human rights”. China was a target for their “human rights assaults”. Some western countries used China’s 1989 political turmoil as an excuse to not only pass resolutions and release reports slandering socialist China as a country that violates human rights, but also manipulated international organizations such as the United Nations to pass counter-resolutions to exert maximum pressure on China. Confronting this severely adverse international political atmosphere, China launched a series of diplomatic initiatives. In the human rights Committee, China fought against the United States for 15 years from 1990 to 2004. The United States Waged 11 attacks, but China won each time.15 To change their hitherto passive status, China and other developing countries pushed for reform of the United Nations human rights mechanism. The Committee passed a resolution in 2000 forbidding the passing of resolutions on human rights issues in other countries, which also cannot be specifically criticized by name in the special reports. In 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council sought to enhance communication and cooperation, and China started to play a more important role in international human rights. China was elected as a member of the Human Rights Council and passed three universal periodic reviews with overwhelming advantage. On March 23, 2018, the 37th Meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council passed China’s resolution promoting win-win cooperation in the field of human rights.16The resolution advocates all countries work together to build a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, equality and justice, and win-win cooperation, and strive to build a community with a shared future for human beings; it also emphasizes that all countries need to insist multilateralism, enhance communication and cooperation in the field of human rights to realize win-win cooperation. The ideal of building a community with a shared future for human beings has thus included in a resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council and it has become an important part of the discourse on international human rights. It marks that China has started to proactively propose human rights topics on the stage of the United Nations, and it is leading the shaping of international human rights rules.

From the perspective of the international background, since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the path of human rights development was formed in human rights diplomacy and the struggle against intervention into China’s internal affairs using human rights as a political tool; it experienced the whole process from evasion to passive counterattack, then to proactive participation and its leading position. All the achievements of human rights obtained in the 70 years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China have won more support on the stage of the United Nations human rights for China, and China has become more proactive in participating in international human rights events.

III. Critical Process in the Path of Human Rights Development Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China

Li Buyun divided human rights into the following three forms from the perspective of the realization and existing form of human rights: due rights, legal rights and actual rights.17 On the ideological level, the issuing of China’s first White Paper on human rights in China allowed human rights to break through the forbidden zone in people’s minds for the first time, and opened the doorway to theoretical research on human rights, which provided possibilities for due rights transforming into legal rights. On the normative level, human rights has been included in the core documents of the Party, become the objective of the struggle and then been written into the Constitution. China has successively published three issues of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China, promoting the overall development of the human rights cause through specific indicators. On the practical level, more improvement of human rights in real life has taken place.

A. Liberation of the mind: the first Human Rights White Paper is a declaration of the standpoint of China’s human rights protection to the world

At the end of 1990, the Kennedy Human Rights Center in the United States sent a letter to Zhou Guangzhao, the President of Chinese Academy of Sciences, criticizing China’s human rights situation, claiming that if the human rights situation was note improved, they would call upon scientists from all over the world to cutoff their relations with China. Zhou delivered this letter to Jiang Zemin, the then General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Jiang instructed the deep study of human rights; saying it is an inevitable trend. Theoretically speaking, there are certain class attributes in human rights; but the West does not accept this. They tend to spread rumors and slander about China’s human rights situation. And this letter, talking about the destiny of thousands and millions, is totally inaccurate, with, of course, the exaggeration from some who abandoned China and fled abroad. To conclude, this issue is associated with democracy and needs to be dealt with very carefully.18 The instruction from the leadership and the international pressure China confronted urged the authorities to pay great attention to human rights issues.

On such basis, the Party Central Committee pointed out in a document at the end of 1990 that we should deal carefully with “human rights attacks” from hostile Western powers, publicize China’s views on human rights, democracy and freedom, and the actual situation of human rights protection confidently and righteously, firmly holding the banner of human rights, democracy and freedom in our own hands.19 The White Paper on Human Rights in China was drafted and completed under the proactive organization and in-depth study of the State Council Information Office in accordance with China’s fundamental standpoint and views on human rights issues expounded by the Central leaders on different occasions after extensively absorbing the opinions of relevant departments, experts and scholars; the main contents include the historical practices and basic facts of the CPC leading the people to seize and protect human rights.

The White Paper marked the first time that the Chinese Government set out its basic standpoint and understanding of the country’s human rights situation. In the beginning part, it says that “human rights” is a magnificent concept, and to enjoy sufficient human rights is an ideal that people pursue and a noble goal that Chinese socialism shall realize.20 The White Paper gives an incisive summary of the history of human rights development, regards human rights as an ideal that all mankind pursue for long and a noble goal that Chinese socialism shall realize; a mass of statistics and profound historical facts are used to break the conventional view on the relationship between socialism and human rights, holding up the banner of human rights in a socialist country confidently and righteously for the first time. On the basis of acknowledging and respecting human rights as the universal principle, the White Paper vividly proposes that “right to subsistence is the primary human right of the Chinese people” and when observing the human right situation in the country people cannot ignore its history and be separated from its national conditions; communication and cooperation are advocated on human rights issues instead of conflicts and intervening in the internal affairs of other countries in the name of human rights. It expounds systematically China’s fundamental standpoint and policies to the world and establishes a brand new view of human rights different from that of the West.21

The issuing of the White Paper not only served as a means for the Chinese government to explain the human rights situation in China to the world; it began the liberation of the mind in the domestic field of human rights. First, under the guidance of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, which was later founded, theoretical studies on human rights have taken root, sprouted and developed vigorously in a large scale in many higher schools and institutions, and great achievements have been made. Second, the White Paper showed a direction and established a theoretical foundation for the development of China’s human rights cause. Since then, respecting and ensuring human rights has been gradually put into all the undertakings of reform and opening-up and socialist modernization, which has positively improved China’s human rights situation.

B. Protection of rule of law: human rights in the Constitution marks a new chapter ensuring human rights protection under the rule of law

The concept of human rights is included in the core documents of the governing party through the reports of the 15th and 16th National Congress of the Party, and respecting and ensuring human rights has become a fundamental goal and program of action for the governance of the CPC. On March 14, 2004, the Constitution Amendment was passed by the Second Session of the 10th National People’s Congress, which added the provision of “the country respecting and ensuring human rights” in the 33rd article. It was called “human rights in the Constitution”. For the first time, “human rights” was elevated from a political concept to a legal term; the main body of the obligation to respect and ensure human rights was elevated from the Party and the government to the “country”; the political concept and value for the governance of the Party and the government was elevated to the fundamental principle of country governance; the values of the country is ensured by the most fundamental law of China.

“Human rights in the Constitution” is very important for human rights protection. First, in the view of main body, the main body scope of China’s human rights protection has been expanded. From civil rights to human rights, the main body of human rights protection is universal, the scope of human rights is broader than the scope of civil rights. Second, in the view of the human rights system, general terms are added besides all the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution. The once closed rights system thus becomes open and makes it possible for the protection of human rights that are not included in the list of tights. Third, it demonstrates that the country’s basic attitude toward human rights which is to respect and ensure human rights, becomes the fundamental values of the country. Fourth, it expedites the internal legislation on human rights as well as the cohesion and coordination with international human rights standards.

Since then, the rule of law protection for China’s human rights has been continuously perfected. The Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Major Issues Pertaining to Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law passed by the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee deploys human rights protection from aspects such as legislation, law enforcement, judicial and legal supervision in an overall and multi-angle way, puts human rights protection into the rule of law system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Currently, a human rights legal protection system with Chinese characteristics is basically formed. This human rights legal system takes the Constitution as the core, Criminal Law, General Rules of Civil Law, Criminal Proceedings, Education Law, Marriage Law, Tort Liability Law, Labor Law, Social Insurance Law, etc as the framework, the Law on the Protection of Minors, the Law on the Protection of Rights and the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women, the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People, and the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, etc. as special protection laws, and massive administrative laws and regulations as well as local regulations on rights as the supplementary protection.

C. Protection from policies: continuously release three issues of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China

From the beginning of 2009, the Chinese Government continuously released three issues of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China. The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) was the first national plan with human rights as its theme introduced by the Chinese government; its issuance marked that China’s human rights cause has become a crucial theme for national construction and social development, and that it had begun to move to a new stage of comprehensive and planned progress. Then the second issue of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015) and the third issue of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2016-2020) were issued successively. The establishment and issuance of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China is a proactive response toward the initiative of the United Nations human rights Council, and also a full-scale implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. In the view of internal level, to issue and seriously carry out the National Human Rights Action Plan of China is the specific implementation of the Constitution principle “the country respects and ensures human rights”, which can effectively promote the transformation from legal rights to actual rights. The three plans follow the basic principles of advancing coordination in accordance with the law and advancing pragmatism, equality and joint efforts; through setting specific and explicit indicators and requirements, the Chinese Government purposefully combines human rights protection with the function of government; it has become a guide to standardize the behavior of the government, its law enforcement departments and judicial departments.

The main patterns of the manifestation of China’s human rights protection policies are constituted by formulating and issuing the National Human Rights Action Plan of China and the guidelines, regulations measures and notices, and launching special operations. Due to the advantages of pertinence, timeliness and flexibility, the plans function as guidance, and support the materialization of human rights legal protection in China’s path of human rights development, which can fully meet the requirements of the special national conditions in China, the national system and the development stage of society and reform. With the gradual completion of social transformation, it functions as the supplement or temporary replacement of human rights protection laws will be gradually weakened.22

D. Actual rights grows significantly: taking poverty alleviation for instance

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China established the country governance principle of respecting and ensuring human rights after exploration and introspection, increased sharply the level of ensuring the right to subsistence and development, enhanced the overall construction of human rights rule of law, effectively realized the overall development of different human rights; rights of special groups have been improved remarkably. China proactively participates in the global governance of human rights, and successfully walks on the path of human rights development in accordance with its national conditions. Different rights of the Chinese people are ensured in a better way and at a higher level, and the Chinese people now enjoy more dignity, freedom and happiness than ever before.

Take poverty alleviation for instance, in 2016, China’s Poverty Alleviation Actions and Human Rights Progress points out that the poverty alleviation actions are the most remarkable symbols for the progress of China’s human rights cause.23 Since the launch of reform and opening-up, over 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty; the number of people living in poverty in rural areas was reduced to 55.75 million in 2015, and the incidence of poverty decreased to 5.7 percent. Infrastructure has improved significantly; the level of basic public services continues to grow. Major efforts have been made to innovate the poverty alleviation mechanisms, which in order to effectively promote the realization of the fundamental rights of people in poverty and thus lay a solid foundation for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The Report of 2015 Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations shows that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in China decreased from 61 percent in 1990 to less than 30 percent in 2002. China was the first country to successfully halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. In 2014 the proportion was reduced to 4.2 percent; the rate of contribution of China to the global poverty alleviation exceeds 70 percent. China has become the country that has realized the highest proportion of poverty alleviation among its population, and the first country in the world to fulfill the millennium development goals of the United Nations. China has made huge contributions to the global poverty alleviation cause and won universal praise from the international society.

IV. Experience Summary

A. The “three-step” strategy for the path of human rights development in China

First, the first White Paper on human rights was issued in 1991. The liberation of mind bore fruit in a prosperity in theories, which provided the necessary conditions and theoretical basis for the transformation from due rights to legal rights. Second, “human rights in the Constitution” opened up a new chapter for the rule of law protection of human rights, gradually forming a legal protection system with Chinese characteristics for human rights, and gas realized the transformation from due rights to legal rights. Third, during the transformation, legal rights have been further transformed to actual rights, taking human rights policies represented by the National Human Rights Action Plan as media, which is strictly evaluated and implemented through specific and detailed indicators. In these three steps, the first was affected and confined deeply by the special background of China’s human rights development; inevitably, it has left a unique historical imprint. The second focused on establishing and perfecting the regulations for rights protected by the law. And the third step guided, supported and supplemented legal protection of human rights in a way of human rights policy protection between legal and actual rights, which has important connotations for the enlightenment of the development of the human rights cause in other late movers or intransition developing countries.

B. The history since the founding of the People’s Republic of China shows that rule of law prospers together with human rights

The progress of human rights depends greatly on the establishment of the rule of law; they rely on each other, share weal and woe. The core concept of human rights is people’s dignity, the core idea of the rule of law is to restrict public power and protect individual rights. There will be no rule of law without human rights and vice versa. Human rights and the rule of law connect with and depend on each other, they interact with, supplement and develop each other. Many scholars explain the connection between human rights and rule of law from the level of values. Human rights are the basic values and primary goals of the rule of law; rule of law is the confirmation and protection of human rights; human rights is the starting point and basis for the rule of law, determining the mission and content; human rights promote the obedience and implementation of law and perfect the rule of law. Human rights need to be confirmed by rule of law, only through legal confirmation can human rights transform from due rights to legal rights, and then actual rights that people can enjoy. Rule of law requires the law to take respecting and ensuring human rights as the most fundamental starting point and the ultimate destination.24 Stressing the connection between human rights and rule of law is of the utmost importance for China. “Wherever has no law shall not have human rights; wherever a law is infringed, human rights shall disappear.”25

C. Highlight the principle of coordinated and comprehensive advance to realize the integral development of human rights

To effectively realize the goal of human rights development, China adheres to the principle of pragmatically promoting human rights with development. Specifically, it combines human rights development with other construction plans, puts the goal of human rights development into China’s overall development planning, especially combining the human rights cause with the construction of the economy, politics, culture, society and ecological civilization, making specific indicators of human rights development to evaluate the implementation of human rights development.26 It emphasizes development is to the means to ensure human rights, but also to prevent getting totally result-oriented. While promoting human rights with development, we also need to pay attention to respect human rights in development, follow the standard and principle of human rights to expedite all-around development in the economy, society and culture, as well as putting more emphasis on human rights protection in legislation, justice and law enforcement. From the perspective of the driving force, the gradual transition from the top-down path to the combination of top-down and down-top path is advisable. The progress of China’s human rights was government-oriented and promoted in a top-down way through policies; now, it has been developed so that the government, institutions and organizations promote the human rights cause together.

The Chinese people have always regarded realizing human rights as the objective, “fought for it one after another regardless of blood and sacrifice in the long-term arduous struggle. To keep pushing forward human rights development, strive to fulfill the noble goal of sufficient human rights demanded by Chinese socialism is still regarded as a long-term historical mission for the Chinese people.”27 The era of globalization raises new questions and challenges for human rights protection; the ideal of building a community with a shared future for human beings will open up the new era of China’s human rights protection; and China’s human rights development cause will definitely usher in new opportunities for development.
 

(Translated by LI Xian)

* TANG Yingxia ( 唐颖侠 ), Deputy Director of Nankai University human rights research center, Associate Professor of Department of Law. This article is a phased objective of the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of 2019 — A Study of Universal Periodic Review Mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Research number: 63192701).

1. The State Council Information Office, the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2009).


2. The State Council Information Office, Human Rights in China (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 1991), 70.

3. Li Yunlong, “The Path of Human Rights Development and Basic Experience in China”, in China’s Human Rights in the New Century, ed. China Society for Human Rights Studies (Beijing: Unity Press, 2005), 138.

4. The State Council Information Office, Human Rights in China (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 1991), 70.

5. Liu Jie, Human Rights: A Chinese Path (Beijing: China Intercontinental Press, 2014), 70.

6. Li Junru, “China’s Democratic Politics Development in 30 Years of Reform and Opening up and Progress of Human Rights Cause,” in 30 Years of China’s Reform and Opening up and Human Rights Development, China Society for Human Rights Studies (Beijing: the People's Daily Press, 2009), 13.

7. The State Council Information Office, China’s Human Rights Cause Development and Progress in the 40 Years of Reform and Opening up (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2018).

8. Chang Jian, “The Reform and Opening up Provides Endogenous Power for China’s Human Rights Cause Development,” People’s Daily, August 12, 2018, 5.

9. Ibid.

10. The State Council Information Office, China’s Human Rights Cause Development and Progress in the 40 Years of Reform and Opening up (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2018).

11. Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, trans. Liu Yisheng (Beijing: China University of Political Science and Law Press, 2016), 11.

12. The State Council Information Office, Human Rights in China (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 1991), 70.

13. Chen Shiqiu, “China’s 30 Years of Participating Actively in International Human Rights Activities,” in 30 Years of China’s Reform and Opening up and Human Rights Development (Beijing: People’s Daily Press, 2009), 441.

14. Ibid., 444.

15. Ibid., 447.

16. Xinhua. net, The United Nations Human Rights Council Passed the Resolution Advocating to Build a New International Relation and a Community with Shared Future for human beings, accessed January 10, 2019, http:// www.xInhuanet.com//wor1d/2018-03/23/c129836564.htm.

17. Li Buyun, “On Three Existing Forms of Human Rights”, Chinese Journal of Law 4 (1991): 11.

18. Jin Tongxiao, “Zhu Muzhi and the 1991 China’s Human Rights White Paper”, China Newsweek, November 5, 2015.

19. Dong Yunhu, “A Review for the 10th Anniversary of the First Milestone in the History of China’s Human rights Development Human Rights in China White Paper”, Human Rights 1 (2002): 25.

20. The State Council Information Office, Human Rights in China (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 1991), 70.

21. Dong Yunhu, “A Review”, 28.

22. Chang Jian, “Scientific Understanding and Grasp of China’s Human Rights Protection Policies”, Theoretical Exploration 5 (2013): 56.

23. The State Council Information Office, China’s Poverty Alleviation Operations and Human Rights Progress (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2016).

24. Gu Chunde, “Socialist Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics and Human Rights Protection”, Human Rights 1 (2015): 21-23.

25. Li Buyun, “On Three Existing Forms of Human Rights”, Chinese Journal of Law 4 (1991): 17.

26. Chang Jian, “The Chinese Dream of Human Rights Protection and its realization”, People’s Daily (overseas edition), June 27, 2014.

27. The State Council Information Office, Human Rights in China (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 1991), 70.

 

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