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Cui Tiankai: China's quest for human rights and democracy
June 06,2019   By:en.humanrights.cn
June 6,2019-- Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the United States, published a commentary titled China's quest for human rights and democracy in the Washington Times. With facts and reasoning, the commentary expounds China’s great achievements in human rights, and rebuts the criticism from western media that “China is not a democracy and has no human rights.”
 
Following is the full text of the commentary.
 
To many Westerners, the concept of human rights in China is a negative one. However, what is left unexplained by China’s critics is a paradox: How could a country with one-fifth of the world’s population but no human rights to speak of have made such enormous strides in its economic and social development? The real picture of China’s human rights situation is more complex than what stereotypes and assumptions convey. Understanding the truth requires an appreciation of China’s history and national aspirations.
 
Since 1840, for more than a century, China was ravaged by the aggression of Western powers, warlord fighting, and a civil war. For a starving, downtrodden people in a war-torn country, “human rights” were a luxury. Seventy years ago, when the People’s Republic of China was founded, the average life expectancy in China was only 35. In such dire times, ensuring the survival of its people was China’s imperative, and this guided policy for the past 70 years. Without assuring the right to survival and development, other rights are castles in the air.
 
The results of our hard work are indisputable. China’s life expectancy reached 77 in 2018, higher than the world average of 72. In the last 40 years, over 740 million people have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for over 70% of the world’s total population lifted from poverty, an accomplishment applauded by the World Bank as “the fastest rate of poverty reduction ever recorded in human history.” Further, China has put in place the world’s largest networks of education, social security, medical care, and community-level democracy.
 
“Respecting and protecting human rights” has been included in the Constitutions of China and the Communist Party of China, and the various strategies guiding national development. Indeed, the expansion and protection of human rights has become an important principle of governance for the Party and the Chinese government.
 
The assumption that China is not a democracy reflects a large misunderstanding. Democracy is a means to deliver a happy life to the people by constantly improving the governance of the country and society. For decades, China has been committed to upholding the Party’s leadership, ensuring that the people run the country and practice law-based governance. The people can have their voices heard in local and state affairs and can freely claim their rights. Anti-corruption campaigns have been successful. State power is now exercised with checks and balances, and the people enjoy higher standards of living. Indeed, it is those countries who masquerade as democracies but flout the will of the people who should think about the condition of their democracy.
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