An Academic Summary of the International Seminar on “Comparison of the Human Rights Value between the East and the West in Epidemic Prevention and Control”
January 05,2021   By:CSHRS
An Academic Summary of the International Seminar on “Comparison of the Human Rights Value between the East and the West in Epidemic Prevention and Control”
TENG Rui* & CUI Mengjie**
Abstract: The international video seminar “Comparison of the Human Rights Values between the East and the West in Epidemic Prevention and Control”, hosted by the Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, was successfully held on May 30, 2020. Against the background of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, this seminar fostered exchanges and discussions on human rights values. As the first country that has contained the epidemic successfully, China shared its experience in the practice of human rights values in epidemic prevention and control, while experts from various countries also shared different human rights values embodied in epidemic prevention and control. This seminar allowed for demonstration of the situation of human rights protection in different countries and regions and exchanges of dilemmas and countermeasures during the specific practice of human rights protection. In the collision of different views and the exchange of multi-dimension dialogues, the seminar called for a sense of a global community of health for all and aimed to foster solidarity and international cooperation for greater contributions to the human rights protection in global epidemic prevention and the development of human rights worldwide.
Keywords: human rights values · epidemic prevention and control · the east and the west
The Fourth Session of the International Seminar Series under the theme of “Global Anti-epidemic Endeavors and Human Rights Protection” was held on May 30, 2020, focusing on “Comparison of Chinese and Western Human Rights Values in the Anti-epidemic Campaign.” Under the guidance of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, the event was co-organized by the Law School and Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, an attended by experts from the United Nations, Europe, Asia and Africa, who shared their experience and insights and discussed the topics about Chinese and Western human rights values in the ongoing epidemic prevention and control effort. 
Professor Wang Xigen, dean of the Law School and director of the Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, presided over the opening ceremony, and Professor Fu Zitang, president of the Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Vice-president of China Society for Human Rights Studies, and Professor Xu Xiaodong, vice-president of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, delivered speeches at the opening of Political Science and Law, and Professor Chang Jian, director of the Institute for
ceremony. More than 40 renowned human rights experts and officials from the OHCHR and its missions in Guinea, Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Nepal, China and other countries and regions participated in the discussions, including Professor Gerd Kaminski, executive vice-president of the Austria-China Friendship Association, president of Austrian Institute for China and Southeast Asia Studies and director of the European Studies Center of the Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology; Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Pakistan Senate and president of the Pakistan-China Friendship Association; Professor Han Dayuan, director of the Institute for Human Rights of Renmin University of China; Professor Zhang Yonghe, executive director of the Institute for Human Rights of Southwest University of Political Science and Law; Professor Zhang Wei, co-director of the Institute for Human Rights of China University Human Rights of Nankai University.
Focusing on the topic “Comparison of Chinese and Western Human Rights Values in the Anti-epidemic Campaign”, the international video seminar was aimed at fostering solidarity and international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic by sharing the epidemic prevention and control experiences of different countries and regions, discussing related issues in human rights protection, and exchanging insights into Chinese and Western human rights values. In light of the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and under the guidance of the concepts of building a community with a shared future for human beings and building a global community of health for all, the seminar thoroughly discussed the practical problems human rights protection encountered in prevention and control work from the theoretical perspective of the dialogue on human rights values between the East and the West, empowering international cooperation and exchanges in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting the progress of human rights, and thus it had valuable theoretical and practical significance.
I. Academic Features of the Conference
Centered around such topics as “Human rights values and the fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” “Human rights protection and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic” and “The diversity of human rights cultures and combating COVD-19 pandemic through enhanced solidarity and cooperation,” experts and scholars expounded upon human rights values in the East and the West, conducted in-depth analysis of various issues, including human rights protection practices in pandemic prevention and control, differences among human rights cultures in different countries and regions,and international cooperation and exchanges in human rights protection, looked into the prospects for human rights development, and put forward proposals and recommendations for the promotion of human rights. The main academic characteristics of the conference were as follows:
First, rational and calm discussions were held on an equal footing among the scholars from various countries. In line with the academic spirit of peace and rationality, participants listened carefully to others’ opinions and exchanged their ideas in a reasonable and friendly manner. The conference not only compared and exchanged human rights values in various countries during this special period of the COVID-19 pandemic but also served as an important connection linking theory with practice in the development of the world’s human rights cause.
Second, the conference was highly relevant to the ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus. Centered around the pandemic, scholars analyzed and discussed some glaring problems in human rights protection around the world, not only contributing to the ongoing prevention and control efforts but also forecasting the direction of the development of human rights. The participants objectively evaluated and recognized the progress in human rights protection in the prevention and control efforts of various countries, shared their experience and wisdom in their fight against the pandemic, identified fields for further cooperation and progress, and provided suggestions on protecting human rights amid the prevention and control efforts.
Third, the diversity of human rights cultures was respected. Rather than being imposed upon different countries by outside forces, human rights values come about and evolve under unique circumstances in the history of each country or region, with geographical conditions, languages, customs, social environments, and economic level of development all playing their part. The discussions among scholars and experts from various countries at this challenging time was conductive to respecting others’ beliefs on human rights and understanding and drawing on diverse human rights cultures. The engagement of diverse cultures and values in the theory and practice of human rights is a reflection of the booming human rights cause around the world.
II. Interaction and Integration of Chinese and Western Human Rights Values
Different anti-epidemic policies and measures in China and the West, and the resulting social repercussions and evaluations reflect different human rights values. In addition to conceptual differences, different human rights values also result in collisions and conflicts among specific values and rights, especially during the epidemic prevention and control work. The conflict of rights is in essence defined by a conflict in values. Selective protection of different interests reflects different value propositions and human rights concepts in different countries. Despite the different understandings of human rights and different constitutional contents and forms in protecting human rights in various countries, all value propositions should comply with the principle of proportion.
A. Choice between conflicting rights
Professor Han Dayuan shared his views on the conflict between the right to life and the right to freedom and their integration. He stated that life is the foundation for dignity and embodies human dignity, so the protection of life is in fact the protection of human dignity. He proposed that the West should rethink cultural pluralism in the light of the ongoing fight against the virus and reflect on the systems and institutions governing relationships between society and individuals as well as collectivism, including social security systems and the principle of proportion for national security and limitations of basic rights, in non-Western countries. Both life and freedom are important, yet when there is conflict between the two, life takes precedence over freedom and a reasonable moral trade-off should be made based on the principle of proportion.
Dr. Elizabeth Steiner, professor at Donau-University Krems in Austria and a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, challenged the practice of tracking individuals’ movements in some countries as part of efforts to contain the virus, citing the right to privacy provision in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which contends that the European Court of Human Rights should examine the necessity of, and the possibility of achieving the expected ends of a measure against the spirits of this provision before its enforcement in a democratic society, and thus a trade-off must be made between conflicting interests and goals, and governments must prove that no less intrusive alternatives are available. “At the heart of this is the choice between privacy and health. In fact, this is a false choice, as we can and should have the two: privacy and health.”1
B. Conflicts between human rights values of different countries
As countries have different human rights values, it is normal that they should act differently in the face of the novel coronavirus. However, some didn’t respect others’ human rights values, and even interfered in and stigmatized the practices of others. Professor Gerd Kaminski cited some instances of China having been discriminated against and its rights infringed upon in the international community in modern times, and lamented the unfair treatment and misfortune China has suffered by practicing some international laws formulated by the West, pointing out that such unfair acts of discriminating against and stigmatizing China are in essence rooted in the fear of the economic development of China. Looking back at the history of “Yellow Peril” and other stigmas labeled on China, he lashed out at those speaking of a “China Virus” and “Wuhan Virus” including US President Donald Trump, and rightly attributed the labels to racism and white supremacy. He further pointed out that the fact that while touting human rights to China, some countries infringed on the human rights of Chinese people during the COVID-19 pandemic showing disrespect to China and infringing on the rights of the Chinese people. 
While analyzing the pandemic-related lawsuits against China in the United States, Alexander Knopps, a professor in international law and politics at the University of Amsterdam, and Tom Zwart, a professor in cross-cultural law at Utrecht University and director at the Cross-cultural Human Rights Center of VU University Amsterdam, asserted that Missouri and Mississippi won’t win. The reasons include: first, Missouri is not qualified to start a legal action on a political issue, which is beyond a court trial; second, China and its entities enjoy immunity from prosecution in US courts and the Doctrine of Acts of State is an obstacle to any litigation; third, China could offer a successful defense on the grounds the pandemic is a Force Majeure event. However, these lawsuits mark a new phase in the rising federalism and radicalism in the United States, and the true objective of the Missouri Attorney-General might be to secure a victory at the public opinion court rather than at the court of law. Professor Alexander also aired his views on China’s dismissal of these case: given no defense against a complaint means acquiescence to it in the antagonistic US legal culture, so it might be helpful for China to criticize the complaint of Missouri.
C. Less infringement of human rights
Prof. Thom Brook at Durham University said that climate change, a serious global issue, poses many threats to human rights, such as rising sea levels, worsening droughts and so on, while this devastating pandemic might contribute to the unprecedented reduction in carbon emissions should the modes of transportation actually be improved. In his opinion, such a change is of great significance and one of the silver linings of the outbreak is less infringement on human rights by climate change. Greater efforts have been made to protect the Earth since the outbreak of the virus, alleviating the impacts on nature and reducing related hazards, which is a silver lining of the pandemic. Another legacy is that the lockdown of their communities has helped to enhance people’s awareness of the need to show more respect to nature.
III. Practice of and Thinking on Human Rights Protection in the Ep- idemic Prevention and Control
The raging COVID-19 pandemic not only poses serious threats to life and health, but also a huge challenge to human rights protection. In addition, issues and problems during the pandemic have also triggered new thinking.
A. Practice of human rights protection in countries
Professor Chang Jian, director of the Institute for Human Rights at Nankai University,listed examples of human rights protection in China’s anti-pandemic efforts. To contain the spread of the virus and minimize the infection rate and fatality rate,China deployed the strictest measures, prioritizing the right to life and health over everything; provided equal safeguards to the right to life and health of all citizens, China pooled resources from all quarters in a short period of time, solving the predicament of insufficient supplies and ensuring that “all those in need are tested, isolated, hospitalized and treated;” to meet the rising demand for hospital beds, China left no stone unturned in setting up two specialized hospitals: Huoshenshan and Leishenshan (each having a capacity of more than 1,000 hospital beds) in Wuhan, the hardest-hit area, within 10 days; and to realize human rights protection, China launched various coordination mechanisms. For example, while imposing effective anti-epidemic restrictions, China adopted region-specific approaches based on their risk levels to promote economic recovery and protect people’s right to work. China launched the green/yellow/red health code mechanism to implement different measures with different populations to meet the need for both epidemic prevention and control and the flow of people required for economic recovery. China attached great importance to the protection of the right to know and provided timely updates of the epidemic trends and related measures to forestall social panic and potential buying sprees of medical resources.
Michael Lysander Fremuth, professor of the University of Vienna and scientific director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, introduced the practice in human rights protection during the epidemic prevention and control in Austria and Germany. He said that the right to life and the right to health are important human rights, but economic development should also be considered. Austria responded quickly to the epidemic, taking many measures, such as banning public events, closing schools, controlling border entry, shutting down businesses, suspending transnational railway transportation, and so on, in fact, only hospitals, pharmacies and retail stores for daily necessities were allowed to open for business. Some restrictions were relaxed after Easter. For example, some markets and shops were permitted to be open. After May, the ban on public places was lifted. But, mask-wearing and social distancing are still mandatory.
Restrictive measures have also been taken in Germany. Compared with Austria, the difference is that activities are not strictly controlled. In Germany, more restriction is imposed on the engagements among people from different households and social distancing is required. Indeed, social distancing and mask-wearing are the basic requirements. Because of strong public backlash against the anti-pandemic measures, Germany has gradually relaxed the controls. Mr. Fremuth also pointed out that there are different human rights values. Some countries focus more on economic development, some on economic security, while others focus more on scientific pandemic protocols to curb transmission of the virus. Different measures reflect the different considerations of their citizens as well as the different understandings of the role of government. Nevertheless, all measures in Europe are based on the human rights protection.
Professor Du Ming, director of the Centre for Chinese Law and Policy at Durham Law School, commented on the prevention and control measuresof the UK government. The government was granted vague and broad powers by the Coronavirus Act 2020 but the government’s inconsistent legal interpretations resulted in arbitrary law enforcement. Both the police and the public are confused about what is allowed and what is forbidden, leading to tension between them. Despite having a tradition of respect for the rule of law and human rights protection, the temporary measures in the UK have not met international standards and have not achieved the expected goals. The UK government is facing the challenge of a judicial review over the lockdown. Based on the International Health Regulations, Professor Du Ming gave his own suggestions: First, laws should be clear and clearly interpreted to avoid arbitrary enforcement; second, public health measures should be scientific, specific to related risks and based on human rights; and third, measures that may do harm to people or hinder the reporting of new risks to international public health authorities should be avoided. In
addition, the restrictions on human rights for the purpose of public health should be in compliance with the following principles: Be formulated and implemented by law; be designed for achieving reasonable targets of common concern to the public, have strict requirements for achieving the preset targets; and be the least invasive option for achieving the targets.
B. Thinking on human rights protection in countries
Dr. Qiao Congrui of the University of Amsterdam noted that anti-pandemic measures in various countries to forestall the possible increase in the number of infected, such as restrictions on face-to-face meetings and mass gatherings, have highlighted the importance of government responsibility being perceived and understood more extensively and profoundly by the public than ever before. Under what circumstances do administrative acts of a government constitute infringements on the lawful rights and interests of citizens or legal persons, and is compensation offered? In the opinion of Dr. Qiao Congrui, although there are various similar key factors between government liability and ordinary tort claims, some factors are not present in ordinary tort claims but unique to government liability for its actions, and the probability of the persons involved winning lawsuits varies in different legal systems. Generally speaking, it is easier for claimants in Europe to present evidence of government liability than those in common law countries. In addition to theoretical judgment on governments’ violation of statutory duties, courts in the Netherlands, Germany and France also consider the nature and extent of government actions’ causing damage to claimants, including whether or not the damage exceeds the share of equally distributed public burden, whether or not there are unusual sacrifices, and whether or not questionable government actions are inconsistent with the general expectation that governments should protect people. Even if government actions are legally justified, the damaged party still has the right to apply for compensation or (partial) compensation on the basis of these considerations. Hence, the rights of harmed parties are better protected.
In addition to the right to life and the right to health, the right of citizens to participate in politics cannot be ignored. Professor Christina Binder, deputy director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Human Rights Studies of the University of Vienna in Austria, analyzed election campaigns during the COVID-19 epidemic from the perspective of international human rights. Professor Binder said that governments are obliged to contain the spread of the virus and protect citizens’ rights to life and health, yet the fulfillment of such an obligation is in conflict with the realization of citizens’ right to participate in politics (which relates to freedom of speech, assembly and movement). Specifically, what lessons can we draw from international human rights laws and protocols? Some believe that despite reserving a leeway for discretion, International Human Rights Standards also impose restrictions on the acts of states. Personal and family life is personal privacy and should be protected as long as it is legal, but it should also be balanced and appropriately limited. Meanwhile, as the public health risk abates, it is necessary to re-examine the legitimacy, legality and appropriateness of the measures to track people’s movements.
Local government with Chinese characteristics has played a vital role in epidemic prevention and control. Professor He Shiqing of the Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science, shared his opinions on the relationship between good governance and human rights protection at the grassroots level, pointing out that with the normal social order disrupted and human rights protection at risk, basic human rights at the grassroots level, including the right to health and the right to basic living standards, should be protected. Even for the sake of the anti-pandemic effort, unlawful acts which unduly interfere with citizens’ rights should be penalized. 
To this end, local governments should be given full play to improve their governance. Therefore, it is necessary to take the anti-pandemic efforts as an opportunity to promote innovation in grassroots governance and enhance the risk management capabilities at the grassroots level. During the pandemic prevention and control work, grassroots governance should focus on protecting the right to health and basic living standards, and attention should also be paid to the realization of other rights, like the right to participate in and supervise public affairs at local levels. It is necessary to take the human rights concept with Chinese characteristics as the guideline and improve the grassroots governance system based on self-governance, rule of law and rule of virtue, that is to say, to have human rights concepts guide good grassroots governance and in turn promote the realization of human rights.
IV. Differences and Characteristics of Human Rights Cultures in Different Countries
Professor Li Yunlong of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC (China National Academy of Governance) summarized the origins of various human rights cultures and the evolution of the right to life as a basic human right. China has the tradition of “valuing life”, having held since ancient times that “life is above all” and “longevity is the most luck” on the earth. According to Mencius, it is human nature to love life. If happening to see a child in the risk of falling into a well, a person will by the light of this nature show compassion and lend a helping hand to the child, pulling him away from danger. During the Renaissance in Europe, humanists upheld the value of human beings, holding that to be human is to be at the center of the world and the ultimate source of all values. Being human makes other things meaningful and determines their values. As a species, humans are above all other living creatures, having dignity and value that other living things have not. Later, in the Age of the European Enlightenment, thinkers went further in the belief that to be human is the supreme objective rather than merely a means. Everyone has the right to life, which is a person’s principal right. 
The United States Declaration of Independence asserts that the right to life is the inalienable right granted by the Creator. Since the end of the WWII, these values of respecting life have been universally recognized by the international community and the right to life has become a basic human right. There are related provisions on the right to life in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. To protect life and safeguard health is a shared value held by all countries and peoples in the 21st century.
Using the World Health Organization’s guidelines for handling human rights issues in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as the standard, Harry Puyar, a judge of the Supreme Court of Nepal, made a pertinent analysis of the realities of handling human rights issues during the COVID-19 epidemic in Nepal. The right to health as a basic right has been enshrined into the Constitution of Nepal to ensure equal and free access to basic health services and emergency health services for all the nationals. Nepal set up a high-level non-governmental network consisting of the National Human Rights Commission, Nepal Bar Association, Federation of Nepalese Journalists and NGO Federation of Nepal to monitor the human rights issues during the COVID-19 epidemic. The Supreme Court of Nepal also played an active role in ensuring human rights at the heart of the anti-epidemic emergency responses. As for safeguarding the rights of foreign workers, the Supreme Court of Nepal has faithfully fulfilled its international obligations as required in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect and recognize the right of foreign expatriates to return their homelands. As for the right to life and health of nationals, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim injunction on increasing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing as much as possible and safeguarding the right to life for the nationals. Especially, the Supreme Court of Nepal also issued an interim injunction to clarify that the residency right and ID documents are not necessary conditions for obtaining relief, ensuring the right to food for vulnerable workers. 
Citing medical workers’ contributions in battling the epidemic, Professsor Ke Lan of the Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology interpreted the doctrine of medical workers being benevolent within the traditional idea of doing well in Chinese human rights culture. The human rights status of a country should be understood and judged from multiple angles. Studies in contemporary economics and sociology show that the human rights view of individualism is flawed. The view of essential human rights proposed by Indian modern scholar Amartya Sen might have something in common with the traditional Confucian philosophy in China, which holds that disadvantaged groups should be the first to be cared for, namely, in an ideal society envisioned by Confucians, the vulnerable members of a society (the elderly, the disabled, the sick, widows and orphans) should have access to a happy life. With their happiness unable to be guaranteed, no matter how well a society develops, it is not a desirable one. Amid the epidemic prevention and control efforts of China, medical workers have practiced and proved the benevolence upheld in traditional Chinese culture with real actions. Chinese traditional culture has a profound influence on medical workers, and their benevolence is naturally activated during a crisis and becomes part of their collective unconsciousness. The anti-epidem-ic measures in China cost citizens their freedom in the short term and the nation temporary GDP growth, but the Chinese society is committed to protecting its vulnerable members, and sticks to its original pursuit of benevolence in Chinese culture, which is the greatest gain.
Professor Li Yunlong compared the differences in life value in various countries in the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic and summarized their respective characteristics. The first life value holds that life matters the most and every life should be saved at all costs, leading to the anti-epidemic measures for imposing full isolation and sparing no effort to treat patients. The second life value is characterized by the emphasis on the overall benefits: sacrificing the lives of a few persons for securing the safety of the majority, evidenced in the herd immunity tactic. The third life value is characterized by factoring in financial costs for life protection, striving to
strike a balance between saving life protection and economic operation. Different life values lead to different measures, and different results. Obviously, the first life value has been proven to be most effective. The principle of “life is above all others” has enabled China to quickly and effectively have the epidemic fully controlled.
V. Solidarity and International Cooperation
At a news conference during the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in May 2020, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the biggest take-away from the pandemic has been that the life and health of peoples in various countries have never been so closely connected and it has never been so strongly felt that all nations are living on the same planet, and that the whole of humanity is in fact a community with a shared future. The virus respects no borders or races, and poses a challenge to all. Any political manipulation of the pandemic will enable the virus to rage, any beggar-thy-neighbor approach will make everyone vulnerable, and any moves going against laws of science will play into the hands of the virus, and lead to more damage.
A. An ill-advised move: leveraging the pandemic as a political weapon
While touching on the issue of human rights as a political tool in the prevention and control of the pandemic, Mushahid Hussain Sayed held that the novel coronavirus outbreak is a serious human rights crisis. The virus respects no borders, religions, races and classes, and has swept across all countries. Any attempt to stigmatize a certain country and accuse others of inaction is wrong. He condemned US President Trump’s stigmatization of China. Compared with most of their Western peers, Asian countries, especially China, have been more successful in taming the virus. The anti-epidemic experience in China is worth sharing. China has sent medical resources to many countries and will definitely share its vaccines (once they are ready) with the rest of the world. Currently, it is still a challenge for some African countries to cope with the pandemic. Even most advanced countries can hardly stay immune from or keep the virus under control on their own. Yet, some political forces in the United States are trying to hold hostage the relationship between China and the United States and trying to push the two countries to the brink of a new Cold War. Therefore, it is not the time to politicize the virus. Instead, we should work together to deal with the pandemic.
B. Exchanges and cooperation are the best options in the global battle
In their joint statement, Dr. Partice Vahard, representative of the OHCHR Mission in Guinea, and the OHCHR officials Dr. Shiyami Puvimanaxinhe and Dr. Diego Valadares Vasconcelos, called for the whole of mankind to turn the pandemic into an opportunity for consolidating solidarity and upholding people-centered international cooperation. The right to development is an inalienable human right. Based on this right, everyone has the right to participate in, contribute to and benefit from economic, social and political development, and thereby fully realize all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a chance to defend the right to development. The anger, hate and xenophobia exhibited during the pandemic are not only prone to be fueled by false information, but also provide a breeding ground for populism and exclusion, which do no good to any country or individual. The response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus serves as an opportunity for changes. The universalism of human dignity and the diversity of cultures should be embraced as the wealth that human beings should cultivate. In the context of growing exclusion and inequality, we should re-examine the development of human rights brought about by technological and scientific breakthroughs, pull together again and strengthen human solidarity and international cooperation.
Mr. Michael Lysander Fremuth also spoke highly of the value of solidarity and cooperation in the fight against the virus and affirmed that global cooperation is needed to end the pandemic. Despite the infringing of human rights by the transmission control measures of most countries, they should not lead to a crisis of human rights. We are obligated to protect human rights while taking effective measures to actively respond to the health crisis. The right to life and the right to health are of great importance. Meanwhile, the world economy is under a huge pressure, and also should be considered. These challenges require joint efforts worldwide.
According to the analysis of Professor Liu Huawen, the challenge of the novel coronavirus is an unprecednted, and there are no previous experiences or roadmaps to help address it, so we have to explore new methods, especially in the initial stages. Cultures, institutions, systems and preferences vary with countries, and the knowledge of the virus and the recognition of the development stages of the epidemic vary with governments; second, further measures should be based on scientific understanding and evidence and in compliance with the principles of proportion and appropriateness, and any arbitrary or discriminatory decision-making should be avoided. While monitoring the actions of governments and supervising policies by law, the realities on the ground should also be considered; third, believing in altruism and collectivism, the Chinese have sacrificed their individual interests for the public good and have been cooperative with the government’s epidemic prevention and control measures. These features are also the common quality of mankind. Fourth, multilateralism and collaboration should be upheld by all countries more strongly than ever before to promote the sense of building a global community of health for all.
The pandemic is not only a test for mankind to respond to global public health crises but also a test of human rights protection for all the countries. Besides, it provides an important reference for us to examine and compare the human rights values of various countries and civilizations.
Human rights protection is not an empty talk and should be tested in comparative practice. The effective control of the epidemic in a short time is a perfect demonstration of China’s concept of human rights. It is a long-term task for global cooperation to respond to crises and protect human rights.
(Translated by HU Liang)
* TENG Rui ( 滕锐 ), Doctor of Jurisprudence and Secretary-general of Institute of Human Rights Law, Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
** CUI Mengjie ( 崔萌洁 ), Postgraduate student at the Law School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology

1. Y.N. Harari, “The World amid the COVID-19 Epidemic,” Financial Times, March 22, 2020.
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