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“The 10th Anniversary of the Blue Book on Human Rights and the Concepts, Discourses and Theories of Human Rights in China” Symposium Summary
August 25,2021   By:CSHRS
“The 10th Anniversary of the Blue Book on Human Rights and the Concepts, Discourses and Theories of  Human Rights in China” Symposium Summary
 
Chang Jian*
 
Abstract: The China Society of Human Rights Studies and the Human rights research Center at Nankai University jointly hosted a seminar on “The 10th Anniversary of the Blue Book on Human rights and the Chinese Human Rights Concept, Discourse and Theory” on December 19th, 2020. Experts at the meeting expressed their views and discussed the organization, style, and system of the Blue Book on Human rights; the concept, expression, and dissemination of the Chinese human rights discourse; the paradigm, principle, and structure of the Chinese human rights theory; and the objectives, paths, and development of the Chinese human rights enterprise.
 
Keywords: Blue Book on Human Rights    human rights concept    human rights discourse    human rights theory
 
The China Society of Human Rights Studies and the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University jointly hosted the online seminar on “The 10th Anniversary of the Blue Book on Human Rights and the Chinese Human Rights Concept, Discourse and Theory” on December 19th, 2020. More than 50 experts and scholars from the China Society for Human Rights Studies and human rights research institutions across the country attended the meeting. To publicize and implement the spirit of the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, the seminar summarized the experience of the Blue Book on Human Rights over the past 10 years while exploring the Chinese human rights discourse system, aiming to promote the Chinese human rights discourse’s innovation and theoretical development.
 
Lu Guangjin, Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary-General of the China Society for Human Rights, presided over the opening ceremony. Jiang Jianguo, Vice Minister of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee attended the meeting and made remarks. Li Junru, Vice President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, former Vice President of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee and chief editor of the Blue Book on Human Rights, along with Wang Xinsheng, Vice President of Nankai University, and Yang Qun, Editor-in-chief of Social Sciences Academic Press, delivered speeches respectively at the opening ceremony.
 
Participating experts expressed their opinions, introduced their respective research results, and had a heated discussion on four themes including the organization, style, and system of the Blue Book on Human Rights, the concepts, expression, and dissemination of the Chinese human rights discourse, the paradigm, principle and structure of Chinese human rights theory, and the goal, path, and process of Chinese human rights path.
 
I. Characteristics, Roles, and Contributions of the Blue Book on Human Rights
 
Experts at the meeting agreed that since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the country has made great progress in the advancement and development of the cause of human rights under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. The first Report on Human Rights Development in China (Blue Book of China’s Human Rights) was released when socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era, reflecting the historical process and experience of the development of human rights in China in the new era. In the 10 years since its debut publication, it has achieved positive results in promoting academic research, theoretical innovation, and construction of human rights discourse, and played an important role in telling stories of China’s human rights well and enhancing international understanding.
 
Li Junru, Vice President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies and former Vice President of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, Chief Editor of the Blue Book on Human Rights, pointed out that the Blue Book on Human Rights was released when socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era to record the historical process and experience of the development of human rights in China in the new era. The editing of the Blue Book on Human Rights has gone through a process of collective exploration. Li said the features of the book have been built up in the process of a gradual accumulation from scratch, and its influence has continually expanded since being later published in both Chinese and English. The Blue Book strives to establish an authoritative ideological frontier for comprehensively and correctly displaying the development of China’s human rights cause, cultivate a team of experts and scholars whose thinking is on the right track to study the theory and practice of human rights in China, and explore ways to form a theoretical system and discourse system on human rights with Chinese characteristics.
 
According to Wang Xinsheng, Vice President of Nankai University, the Blue Book compiled by the China Society for Human Rights Studies representss an objective record of the development of China’s human rights cause, analyzes laws and policies on human rights protection and their practice step by step, and provides suggestions on how to improve human rights protection in China. Since it debut publication in 2011, it has testified to not only the continuous progress achieved in the field of China’s human rights rule of law and policy but the in-depth research on the concept, discourse, and theory of human rights in a continuous way, making important contributions to the development of the cause of human rights in contemporary China. 
 
Yang Qun, Editor-in-chief of the Social Sciences Academic Press, holds that the Blue Book on Human Rights, as the most authoritative think tank report in the field of human rights in China, objectively showcases China’s human rights situation to audiences both at home and abroad, publicizes the progress of Chinese human rights on the global scene, and serves as a window to the progress of China’s social development. The annual Blue Book records the important related measures and policies taken by the CPC and the State, as well as the hot and difficult issues in the field in a timely and in-depth manner.
 
After reviewing the Blue Book in detail, Tang Yingxia, Deputy Director of the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University, judges the Blue Book leads the discourse system of human rights in China, guides and fosters academic research on human rights, and promotes the construction of China’s human rights discourse system in the international competition of discourse on human rights. The selected topic of the Human Rights Blue Book with distinctive characteristics of the times conforms to a range of major policies of the Party and the State and is an important source of information for the outside world to understand China’s human rights discourse. Each report gives an accurate interpretation of China’s human rights laws and policies. Studies and case studies track the hot issue of China’s human rights practices. The fixed columns such as “National Human Rights Legislation,” and “International Exchange and Cooperation in Human Rights” faithfully recorded the course of China’s human rights legislation and international exchanges and cooperation, while the columns of “Human Rights Chronicles” and “Database of Human Rights Laws and Regulations” left valuable materials for the study and research for the development of China’s human rights cause.
 
Professor He Zhipeng, Dean of the Law School of Jilin University and Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies, said that there exists a “bottom- surface” relationship between the Blue Book and human rights discourse and theory. The Blue Book, rather than human rights theory and discourse itself, lays a foundation for the construction of human rights theory and discourse through the study of human rights practice. It supports China’s human rights theory and discourse with facts and analysis that illustrate China’s human rights practice. It provides diachronic accumulation and vertical support through year-by-year records and historical investigation, horizontal support through inter-regional and international comparisons, and an interface between the actuality and theoretical discourse through problem analysis and trend analysis.
 
Professor Zhang Wanhong, Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights at Wuhan University, indicated that with its “authority, pioneering spirit, and originality,” the Blue Book analyzes and studies various topics in terms of the construction of China’s human rights system, practical hotspots, theoretical frontiers, and international cooperation. It not only summarizes the overall development “road map” of human rights in the relevant years in a panoramic manner, but also vividly depicts new developments and achievements in human rights in several specific areas, reflecting the country’s progress in human rights philosophy, systems, practices, and international cooperation.
 
Professor Zhou Wei, Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at Sichuan University, believed that the Blue Book of Human Rights is different from general academic papers, research reports, project applications, and decision-making advisory reports. The Blue Book on Human Rights is authoritative, pioneering, original, empirical, forward-looking, and time-sensitive carries out annual monitoring of the development situation and hot issues of human rights in China and analyzes the status quo and forecasts the development trends for human rights in a certain areas from the perspective of academic experts. It mainly presents a thematic analysis of developments in the human rights cause in various fields and rights. Based on empirical data such as statistical data, field research, and questionnaire results, the report makes a specific analysis of the latest progress of a certain human rights protection.
 
Professor Zhao Shukun from the Institute of Human Rights of Southwest University of Political Science and Law said that the Blue Book of Human Rights has the characteristics of a “second party,” which is different from the government’s stance set out in the human rights white paper. Instead, it stands on the non-governmental second party position with the diversified perspective of human rights discourse.
 
II. Construction of China’s Human Rights Discourse System  
 
The experts at the meeting held that the construction of the human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics should be regarded as a lofty political mission, and great efforts should be made to study the basic national conditions of China (especially the rich experience accumulated in human rights practice under the leadership of the Communist Party of China), and construct a human rights theory and discourse system with Chinese characteristics. They agreed that the human rights discourse system should be constructed with the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights, guided by core values and common values, so as to develop new propositions and new principles. The essential connection between human rights and socialism should be highlighted, and the human rights system should be enriched in the comprehensive and dynamic development of human rights by highlighting people’s subject status.
 
Lu Guangjin, Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary-General of the China Society for Human Rights, made a speech at the opening ceremony, saying that since the 18th  National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in November 2012,  human rights theorists have been committed to exploring the internal logic of the  socialist human rights theory with Chinese characteristics, striving to build a Chinese  human rights discourse that suits China’s national conditions and the development  requirements of the times, which provides strong theoretical support and guarantee  for the development of Chinese discourse on human rights. Constructing a human rights discourse system in the new era and striving for the right to discourse on human rights require us to pool wisdom and strength in brainstorming from all parties in an 
 
all-dimensional, multi-tiered, and multi-faceted manner. It is also necessary to draw on experience, deepen understanding, and gain motivation from the great practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Lu said that he hoped people would bring their minds together by putting efforts into the continuous innovation and development of human rights theories and discourse systems with Chinese characteristics, so as to make greater contributions to the promotion of China’s cultural soft power.
 
In his speech, Li Junru pointed out that according to historical materialism, a human rights theory of the right to subsistence and the right to development and its logic should be formed, which takes the right to life as the logical starting point. Once started, what will be formed is not merely the “theoretical system of the right to subsistence and development,” but the entire theoretical system and discourse system of human rights with Chinese characteristics. This system, like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, is the hierarchy of human rights needs theory and discourse system. The bottom layer presenting the most basic human rights is the basis of all levels above and penetrates and affects all levels of human rights above; human rights at the upper levels are guarantees at the lower levels. The first level is no doubt “the right to subsistence and the right to development with the right to life as the logical starting point;” the second level should be the “economic, social and cultural rights” that are most closely related to the rights to subsistence and development; the third level is the right to peace based on the first and second levels; the fourth “civil and political rights,” underlined by the first three, guarantees the realization of the first three human rights. The fifth level could be the “data rights” that exist in the previous levels. As the internet, big data, and intelligence develop, human rights in this respect will become increasingly prominent. The sixth level, the greatest human right, is the people’s “right to a happy life.”
 
Researcher Liu Huawen, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies, Deputy Director of the Institute of International Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a member of the UN Committee Against Torture, said that the national conditions and development tasks in a different historical period determined that China and other developing countries highlighted the advocacy of the rights to subsistence and development, which was of positive significance to the promotion of human rights. When China advocates the rights to subsistence and development, it only emphasizes economic, social, and cultural rights. It does not intend to take these rights as an excuse to offset the civil and political rights emphasized by Western countries. To pursue the noble goal of “Human rights for all”, any country may set its priorities and agendas, but the term of primary human rights does not deny the comprehensiveness and integrity of human rights. Three national human rights action plans developed and implemented by China all stress that the country fully protects human rights, adhering to the principles of advancing human rights with the rule of law, in an all-around way and a gradual manner. It should be emphasized that the concepts of the right to subsistence and the right to development are dynamic and progressive. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, our discourse regarding the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights has kept pace with the times. We set out the goal of advancing China’s human rights cause in an all- around way by taking the rights to development and subsistence as the primary human rights, however, rights to subsistence and development of Chinese people have been better protected to a whole new level.
 
Professor Qi Yanping, Director of the Research Center for Science, Technology and Human Rights at Beijing Institute of Technology, talked about the politicization of human rights. He observed that human rights are inseparable from political, economic and military affairs and are therefore an instrument of international politics as the United Nations Human Rights Council serves as an arena in international politics. In this way, the human rights apparatus has been plagued by concerns of politicization. However, the fundamental questions are whether the politicization of human rights led by Western countries is fair, whether its standards are just, whether multiple standards are being used, whether it is Western-centric, and whether it has implemented political discrimination against developing countries on human rights.
 
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, especially since reform  and opening-up launched in 1978, China has developed a discourse on human rights  that integrates Chinese and foreign human rights cultures, complies with international  human rights norms, and conforms to China’s national conditions in an innovative  way, by interpreting the course of China’s revolution and construction through the  development of its human rights discourse, reshaping the discourse of human rights  with Marxist theory, absorbing the nutrients of human rights discourse from traditional  Chinese culture, innovating human rights discourse in the practice of the development  of human rights cause, and constantly improving the human rights discourse in the  process of dialogue and exchange, according to Li Yunlong, a professor at the Party  School of the CPC Central Committee. Li said since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has worked to better protect basic human rights comprehensively and built up a typical Chinese human rights discourse system in the perspective of effective international communication in an innovative way by adhering to the principle of the people- centered development approach. As “people” have become the subject of human rights discourse in the new era, China has proposed a series of new expression such as “Living a happy life is the primary human right,” “There is no best only better human rights guarantee,” “Basic human rights such as peace and development are viewed as the common values of humanity. The nation has espoused a people-centered view of human rights and integrated the principle of universality of human rights with national conditions in practicing socialism with Chinese characteristics. China regards the rights to subsistence and development as its primary and basic human rights. It endeavors to improve the civil and political rights of all its people while developing economic, social, and cultural rights in a coordinated manner and works for a more just, reasonable, and inclusive global governance of human rights. China’s efforts have greatly enriched and developed the international human rights discourse.
 
Professor Qian Jinyu, Executive Deputy Director of the Human Rights Research Center of Northwest University of Political Science and Law, noted that the human rights discourse system bears the governance values and will to power of some specific countries. The effective construction of China’s human rights discourse system concerns the process of the modernization of national governance and fundamentally affects whether China can provide the political resources and an approach to global human rights governance from the East. In the context of modernizing China’s governance and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, on one hand, China endeavors to build a domestic human rights discourse system centered on people’s needs for a better life, by putting people first and regard people’s happiness as the greatest human right. Against the background of profound changes in the global political and economic order, on the other hand, efforts have been made to build an international human rights discourse system centered on a community with a shared future for human beings.
 
Professor Liu Jie, who served as Director of the Institute of Politics and Public Administration at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies, proposed that expression of the discourse of human rights in China can be further divided into three ways: publicity discourse, policy discourse, and academic discourse. The publicity discourse, mainly aimed at international and domestic audiences, emphasizes explaining the stance of the Party and the State on human rights and releasing official information; the policy discourse prefers to adopt the formulation and expression of human rights laws and regulations, policies, and measures; the academic discourse is embodied in the discourse expression of theoretical analysis and academic discussion. In the fields of ideology, national policy, public communication and education, academic research, and international human rights exchanges, inevitably, there are many ways to express. Different ways of expression adopted in respective fields are likely to facilitate communication and exchanges in the field of human rights. On the contrary, excessive mixing of different ways of expression is not conducive to communication and even leads to misinterpretation and divergence.
 
Professor Mao Junxiang, Secretary of the Party Committee of the School of Law and Executive Director of the Human Rights Research Center, Central South University, proposed that the diffusion of China’s human rights discourse should be realized with normative power. Normative power, which is different from hegemonic power or military power, emphasizes regulating international relations and shaping the international community through norms. It is not power-oriented and interest- based, but rule-oriented and value-based; it is characterized by equal cooperation, persuasive dialogue, rules-based governance, and seeking common ground while reserving differences, and implemented by means such as demonstration behavior, the development of norms, and guiding ideas. The normative force in the international order should have the ability to influence the system, generate and implement the norms. In spreading the Chinese human rights discourse to the outside world, the country should not only have a value consensus and rationality but also realize it through the active diffusion of norms. The diffusion of norms implies that China should transform the system influence capabilities into the ability to generate and implement norms in the international human rights system. The ability to generate norms refers to the ability to transform its discourse and ideas into international rules and the ability to implement is the ability to abide by international rules and ensure that international rules are followed by other subjects. To this end, China should actively set up human rights issues in the international human rights system and advance the balanced development of different types of human rights issues. Proposals of China, an active sponsor of draft resolutions, should include human rights concepts and the discourse with Chinese characteristics and international consensus, making it an international declaration and resolution by taking the advantages of the majority of the Asian and African members of the Human Rights Council. It should enhance its influence in international human rights institutions by seeking to get more Chinese experts or those with similar views appointed as rapporteurs on the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and so lay the foundation for the translation of any declaration or resolution the country supports into a human rights treaty. China should uphold the authority of the multilateral human rights system, earnestly assume the substantive and procedural obligations of international human rights treaties, and guide other countries to abide by international human rights treaties through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
 
Professor Liu Zhiqiang from the Institute of Human Rights at Guangzhou University analyzed the mutual construction of the concept and discourse of Chinese human rights. He stated that the concept of human rights and human rights discourse are interdependent. The human rights discourse conveys human rights concepts, and human rights concepts are a part of the content of human rights discourse. The two are not randomly combined; once fixed, they will provide people with guidance.
 
The discourse on human rights must be regulated by the concept of human rights. Liu further distinguished the combined expression and the aggregate expression of human rights discourse and human rights concept. The former expresses different kinds of human rights discourse, while the latter expresses the same types and concepts of human rights discourse together. The former is specific, individual, and local, associated with the spatiotemporal context in which it is formulated. In contrast, the latter, abstract and universal, breaks away from the limitation of specific spatiotemporal context, to some extent. When a human rights discourse is carried out, the combined axis and the aggregate axis should be developed in both directions. If it is biased towards the combined axis, it will focus on the realism of the human rights discourse, while if it is biased towards the application of the aggregate axis, it will attach importance to the normative of human rights discourse. It requires their interaction for a balance approach. If it slides to the combined axis completely, it will inevitably result in the solidified image of human rights discourse with “symbolic appearance,” and finally it can only fall into the self-intoxication and revelry of being a human rights signifier. Therefore, efforts should be devoted to applications on the aggregate axis. In this way, it is necessary to make a deep interpretation of the human rights discourse in the process, and constantly seek its justification and empirical basis, so as to elucidate its significance and function for the realization of human rights.
 
Professor Zhang Wanhong, Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights of Wuhan University, analyzing the contemporary Chinese human rights discourse, found the identifiers of groups of women, children, ethnic minorities, the elderly, and the disabled have gone through changes from “vulnerable groups” to “special groups” and then to “specific groups.” “Specific groups” refer to groups specially protected by national laws because of their difficulties and special needs in realizing their rights. In practice, they are a unified expression of groups such as women, children, ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The concept has been widely recognized for its objectivity, openness, and neutrality. The official descriptions that refer to groups such as women and children by specific groups first appeared in the Draft revision of Legal Aid regulations of guangdong Province submitted for examination in 2015. Subsequently, official white papers in the field of human rights, such as the National Human Rights Action Plan (2016-2020), China’s Progress in Poverty reduction and Human rights replaced enumeration with specific groups.  The concept of a “specific group” does not define the attributes and characteristics of the object itself, nor does it contain the elements of evaluation. It attaches importance to the fact that the rights of the individuals concerned are given special attention and protection by law, to avoid the disadvantages brought by presetting the characteristics of objects and evaluation criteria. Being more open, objective, and neutral, the concept of “specific group” reflects the standardization and precision of research terminology, as well as the progress in human rights protection
 
Luo Yanhua, a professor at the School of International Studies of Peking University, pointed out that some of the human rights concepts expressed by China have been incorporated into Human Rights Council resolutions, officially making it an important part of the international human rights discourse, including the concepts of “building a community with a shared future for human beings,” “promoting human rights through development” and “win-win cooperation for the cause of human rights.”
 
According to Associate Professor Wang Jinwen of the Center for Human Rights Studies at Central South University, dignity is the value and honor that is intrinsic to every human being as a member of the human community. Respecting and protecting human dignity are the basic consensus of modern society. Safeguarding the dignity of every human being and pursuing a happy life with dignity is not only the basic responsibility of the State but a compelling vision for a happy life. In terms of special reports and research reports, the Blue Book of Human Rights shows its concern with human dignity, an important subject in modern law and human rights studies. The study of human dignity is not only to explain ideology but also to develop wisdom in practice. Human dignity is inviolable, which contains profound and even painful reflections on historical experience. We should consciously take human dignity as the value concern, clarify the ideological origin of human dignity, define the legal attribute of human dignity, and conceive a reasonable localized design scheme of human dignity, advancing international human rights cooperation based on the protection of human dignity and promoting the maintenance of constitutional order, the protection of rights and the development of the community by activating the fundamental rights in the Constitution. Only in the process of comprehensively advancing the rule of law and building a socialist country under the rule of law can we promote the maximum realization of human dignity and make positive contributions to the construction of a community with a shared future for human beings.
 
III. Innovation of China’s Human Rights Theory
 
Experts attended agreed that as the Chinese human rights cause has entered a new stage of development, the complex and changeable international environment and the higher domestic demand for human rights protection put forward higher requirements for the study of theory. By adhering to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, human rights theorists should thoroughly study and implement General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important remarks on human rights and accelerate the development of a human rights theory and discourse system with Chinese characteristics and the characteristics of the times, in the process of increasing confidence in the cause of human rights, pursuing a people- centered approach to research, and making theoretical innovations based on the great practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In doing so, it will make a greater contribution to advance the development of China’s human rights cause in the new era and deepening international exchanges and cooperation in this field.
 
Professor Chen Youwu, Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights at Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, proposed that human rights phenomenon and human rights consciousness should be distinguished in terms of basic theories. The former belongs to the category of social existence, while the latter is included in the category of social consciousness. Human rights itself belonging to the scope of human rights phenomenon is an objective social relationship, irrespective of the human rights will of the people. Whether there is a sense of human rights or not does not affect its existence. The phenomenon of human rights that is primary is decisive to human rights consciousness, yet the consciousness of human rights merely reflects the human rights phenomenon itself. Human rights consciousness as a subjective ideology system includes the idea, emotion, psychology, concept, knowledge, thought, theory, and discourse. It is aimed at the objective existence of such as human rights, the human rights system, and the practice of human rights protection. In the ideological system, the philosophy of human rights is the forerunner of all human rights consciousness, and the conceptual basis to form an ideology, theory, and discourse on human rights. In this sense, the philosophy of human rights itself as human rights consciousness plays a decisive role in human rights theory and discourse, and the conceptual basis of different human rights theories and discourse lies in the differences of human rights concepts. The philosophy of human rights corresponds to the practice of due rights and their protection, which reflects their image in people’s minds. Human rights discourse is the unity of subjectivity and objectivity, which plays the role of subjective consciousness of human rights and objective existence. The discourse of human rights, essentially defined as real rights, is derived from the practice of real rights and their protection, which reflects their images in people’s minds. Human rights discourse is a more complex ideology, which expresses concept, theory, and discourse on human rights in a comprehensive way. The philosophy of human rights serves as the “forerunner” of human rights in an era. It provides insight into the development trend of human rights consciousness and the development trend of human rights cause in an era. The theory of human rights is a relatively mature ideology. Different from human rights ideologies such as human rights ideas, emotion, psychology, and thought, it often presents a relatively complete theoretical system and stable theoretical state in a long historical period. Based on the practical institutional practices, the theory of human rights, especially the existing legal systems, has been gradually formed in the course of long-term development and practice considering the actual conditions of various countries. The philosophy of human rights corresponds to the practice of due rights and their protection, which reflects their image in people’s minds. The human rights discourse is the most advanced ideology of human consciousness. It not only expresses the inner human rights consciousness such as human rights ideas and theory but also can be a comprehensive judgment of human rights phenomena such as human rights itself, human rights system, human rights construction, and human rights activities.
 
Professor Zhang Yonghe, Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, has made a detailed analysis of the openness of human rights. He explained that initially, it was the concern for human beings, as Tertullian talked about human rights in ancient Rome and the concern for human beings in ancient China. The Magna Carta of 1215 dealt with the rights of the person and political rights limited to the aristocracy. The U,S, Declaration of Independence stated that all men are created equal, but at least it did not include African Americans and Native Americans when it came to “human beings.” The Constitutional Convention of 1718 talked about the rights to freedom of speech, as well as freedom of the press, assembly, and association. But it did not mention democratic rights, which were included in the Constitution in an amendment passed in 1789. The Universal Declaration of Human rights was formulated in a multicultural context, which made it possible to apply the concept of human rights in its full sense. It involves non-discrimination, racial equality, fighting for freedom, democracy, equality, progress, and so on. But it does not include the right to development. The right to development came into existence only in 1970 and the right to subsistence in 1983. The concept of human rights is constantly being enriched.
 Professor Wang Xigen, Dean of the Law School and Dean of the Institute of Human Rights Law of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, proposed that the human rights discourse system should be constructed with the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights, guided by core values and common values, so as to develop new propositions and new principles. He expressed that the essential connection between human rights and socialism should be highlighted, and the human rights system should be enriched in the comprehensive and dynamic development of human rights by sublating the principle of people’s sovereignty with the principle of people’s subject status
 
Professor Zhang Xiaoling, former Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, held that the concept of human rights is the original concept of the socialist system of human rights theories with Chinese characteristics. Exploring its connotations and characteristics is of great significance for the further development and improvement of the socialist human rights theoretical system with Chinese characteristics and the construction of the socialist human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core has further enriched and developed socialist human rights theories in the course of advancing the cause of human rights under socialism with Chinese characteristics and formed the socialist human rights concepts with Chinese characteristics for the new era, which include three important human rights concepts: first, the concept of “people’s rights and interests” integrates the rights of the Chinese people in terms of economy, politics, culture, and ecology, and is the unity of collective rights and individual rights; second, the concept of the “Chinese Dream” is the historical and realistic development of people’s rights and interests. It closely links the interests of the country, the nation, and the people. The Chinese Dream is a process of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and essentially also a process to constantly promote the development cause of the Chinese people; third, the concept of “a community with a shared future for human beings,” as the core concept of China’s human rights discourse system, is a theoretical understanding of the relationship between the rights and interests of the Chinese people and that of people around the world. It embodies the Chinese wisdom and Chinese program as China assumes the responsibilities of a major country, actively participates in international human rights governance, and promotes a win-win situation.
 
Professor Ban Wenzhan, Deputy Dean of the Institute for Human Rights of China University of Political Science and Law, believes that both China and the world need to reflect at the conceptual level if they want to solve the problems in the theory and practice of human rights. The concept of human rights generally falls into two broad categories, one is dominated by struggle or confrontation, the other by harmony. The spirit of harmony guides the theory and practice of human rights, in a process of coordinated development and benign interaction based on respecting differences, which he called “human rights view in harmony.” It is not a question of the right of harmony, nor is it a question of the relationship between human rights and harmony, but the view of human rights dominated by harmony. In other words, it is the concept and understanding of human rights based on the spirit of harmony, which includes both the theory and practice of human rights. The basic principle lies in the balance, complementarity, and coordination of differences. That is to say, based on respecting differences, benign interaction and coordinated development can be achieved, in which the whole of society should work together under the guidance of the spirit of harmony. The whole of society includes all the members of society within the scope of China and, if taken on a world scale, all the members of the international community. 
 
Professor Chang Jian, Director of the Human Rights Research Centre at Nankai University, elaborated on the historical, objective, and structural views of “developmentalist human rights theory.” In terms of the historical view of human rights, the developmentalist theory of human rights holds that human rights are not something that have existed since ancient times or have been constructed and completed at one time, but a social consensus and social norms formed through social development under specific historical conditions. They will continue to develop as historical conditions make progress. Three main aspects give rise to the specific historical conditions of human rights: first, the market economy. Human rights consciousness is the ideology of the market economy, while human rights norms are the social norms of the market economy; Second, the globalization of social interaction. In the process of the globalization of the market economy, human rights have developed from a local consciousness and norm to a universal consensus. The third is the global crisis brought about by the Second World War, which made human beings realize the urgency of constructing a global bottom-line consensus and normative constraints in respecting and protecting human rights. In the purpose view of human rights, the paradigm of human rights deontology denies the purpose of human rights, and the human rights scholars who advocate the paradigm of human rights deontology also hold different views on the purpose of human rights. They regard individual freedom, survival, harmony, happiness, or a better life as the ultimate goal of human rights. The developmentalist theory of human rights regards the free, comprehensive, and harmonious development of all people as the ultimate goal of human rights. In this sense, the right to development is the right of all human beings, the right to development of all people, and the right of all people to free, comprehensive, and harmonious development. It is the value basis of all other human rights, the determiner of all other human rights functions, the basis for the coordination of resolving human rights conflicts, and the final standard to test the overall realization of human rights. In terms of the structural view of human rights, the developmentalist human rights theory regards the right to development as the objective right, and the right to subsistence including the right to basic living standards, health, social security, environment, and peace as the basic right to realize the right to development. It takes the right to participate in economic, political, social, and cultural life as the means of realizing the right to development, including the right to work, the right to property, the right to vote, the right to know, the right to express, the right to supervise and the right to culture. The principle of autonomy and various freedom rights, including legal personality rights, freedom from abuse, freedom of belief, freedom of information, freedom of movement, and freedom of marriage, are taken as the subjective conditions for the realization of the right to development. The principle of equality and all equal rights should be taken as the binding conditions for realizing the right to development, which include the right not to be discriminated against, the right to equality before the law, the right to a fair trial, and the rights of specific groups. The building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects has more fully guaranteed the Chinese people’s right to subsistence. It has also created the conditions for the people to participate freely and equally in economic, political, social, and cultural life. 
 
In the new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way, efforts should be made to strengthen the protection of the right to participate and free and comprehensive harmony’s development of all, based on consolidating and improving the level of protection of the right to subsistence, by effectively enabling the free and equal participation of the people in economic, political, social and cultural fields.
 
Liu Ming, Associate Professor of Human Rights Research Centre at Nankai University, elaborated on the four perspectives of justice for the protection of vulnerable groups. A core concept of justice is to protect the rights of the disadvantaged. If the disadvantaged position of the group is not caused by causes within its own control, this should be a matter of just concern. The justice perspective analysis is divided into negative and positive aspects. The negative dimension involves just demands to avoid harming vulnerable groups, including inclusive justice to avoid exclusion and corrective justice to correct injustice. Inclusive justice emphasizes equality of opportunity and follows the principle of inclusive development to guarantee the rights of vulnerable groups to equal participation, so as to avoid social exclusion. Corrective justice requires rectifying the inequality caused by historical institutional or policy injustice while advocating balanced development. The positive aspect involves the claim of justice, including distributive justice and developmental justice, in which the government or other subjects are required to make some positive contributions to help the disadvantaged groups realize their rights demands. Distributive justice emphasizes equality of resources and asks for equal sharing of the fruits of development. Developmental justice emphasizes the equality of abilities and requires the society to facilitate necessary conditions for its members to possess and realize “feasible abilities,” so as to realize individual freedom and all- around development. The protection of vulnerable groups should consider the four perspectives of justice and adopt the model of compound equality.
 
Professor Zhu Liyu from the Human Rights Research Center of the Renmin University of China identified six aspects of Marxist human rights theory. First, Marx argued that human rights are not inborn but arose in the course of history. It is not immutable but has changed with the development of history. Second, it believes that human rights are social and human beings are regarded as the product of social relations. The so-called human rights are nothing more than the rights that people should enjoy and enjoy in certain social relations. Third, it holds that human rights are class-based and there are no supranational human rights because the basic rights and freedoms of human beings are the reflection of the will and interests of a certain class often in a certain law and State system. Fourth, it believes that human rights have material constraints. As a kind of social consciousness and superstructure, the phenomenon of rights is determined by a certain social mode of production. The development level of productive forces in the mode of production determines the degree of realization of human rights; the relations of production in the mode of production determines who enjoys human rights and to what extent; the development of social material living conditions to the stage of capitalism determines the emergence of human rights system and human rights thoughts in the modern sense. 
 
Fifth, human rights are identical, specific, and relative. Different human rights cultures can inherit and learn from each other. Human rights are not absolute and abstract, but concrete and relative as their content differs from times, classes and countries. Sixth, national self-determination and national equality are fundamental rights in every state.
 
Associate Professor Meng Qingtao, Deputy Dean of the Institute of Human Rights at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, reviewed studies on the relationship between Chinese Confucianism and human rights. On the question of whether traditional Confucian thought has human rights, there are three kinds of judgment criteria: writing (concept), minds (thought, idea) and caring (practice), and three representative viewpoints put forward: “there were no human rights in the past,” “there were human rights in the past” and “initially, there were no human rights, but then there emerged.” On the relationship between Confucianism and human rights, scholars’ views can be divided into three propositions of “repulsion theory” “integration theory” and “transformation theory.” In terms of constructing human rights theory with Confucian ideas as theoretical resources, Chaoshan Neo- Confucianism, represented by Professor Du Gangjian of Hunan University, put forward the theory of “benevolence” on human rights, which took “freedom of conscience” as the starting point and included the basic human rights system of human rights, tolerance, resistance, new constitutionalism and two-way rule of law. In the research of the history of the formation of human rights, researchers not only focus on the “Western learning spreading to the East” of the concept of human rights but also begin to explore the influence of the “Eastern learning spreading to the West” of Confucianism on the formation of the western concept of human rights. The research on this influence mainly focuses on the influence of the concept and the influence of the normative text.
 
Dr. Lv Yiwei of the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University pointed out that Western human rights thoughts and theories, from natural law, natural rights to legal rights, all took individual dignity and freedom as the specific core, which was also determined by the historical and cultural development of Europe itself. There is a gap between what theory should be and what social reality is, however, this concept of human rights accumulated for a long time has become an important part of the core value and a common social consciousness in western countries, and it cannot be shaken in the short term, which is especially obvious during the ravages of novel coronavirus. China’s research on human rights thoughts and theories may also be unconsciously influenced by Western discourse in terms of basic concepts, definitions, and thinking. The mindset formed will inevitably be controlled by others if we trace the origin of human rights only from the Western legal culture. It is necessary to interpret and explain the human rights attributes of the right to subsistence and development from the perspective of the Chinese discourse throughout ages according to the tradition of Chinese culture, with the “people-oriented” thought inherited for thousands of years as the core while thinking upon how to transform them into policies and laws for the protection of human rights.
 
Li Zijin, Associate Professor at the School of Law and Politics, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, analyzed the historical development of prohibition of discrimination in China. The early Chinese concept of prohibition of discrimination was embodied in the ideas of equality among the various schools of thought during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century BC. Among them, Confucius proposed equal distribution and equal provision of education in State governance, which was an equal thought mainly based on realism. Lao Tzu believed that equality came from the legitimacy of the way of heaven and the requirement of the way of heaven to compensate for more than one’s loss, which was a kind of strong idealistic equality thought. Mozi’s thought of “universal love” combines realism and idealism. The legalists’ thought on equality, represented by Li Huang, Shang Qi, and Han Fei, is mainly embodied in the aspect of equal application of the law. In modern times, the concept of prohibition of discrimination collided with the Western ideas of equality to develop some more complex and inclusive ideas of equality. It is embodied in Kang Yu-wei’s ideal of “Great Unity of the World” and equality in Three Principles of Nationalism, Democracy and Livelihood claimed by Sun Yat-sen. In the contemporary era, the CPC, based on socialist equality, has transformed the concept of equality in the universal society of traditional culture and developed a more complex, complete, thorough, and practical concept of prohibition of discrimination according to the equality requirements proposed by China’s social development, which includes equality of rights, equality of opportunities, equality of rules, equality of distribution and equality of international order.
 
Professor Xiao Junyong of the Law School, Beijing Institute of Technology, explored the right of citizens to safety. He defined the right to civil security as the right for citizens to have their security interests guaranteed, in the aspects of the economy, food, personal safety, politics, health, and so on. The right to civil security can be further divided into a negative right and an active right, and the right to civil safety in the face of direct violence and indirect violence. The protection of citizens’ right to security today faces some new risks, including the risk of infringement of overseas citizens’ rights to security during the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of citizens’ to privacy security in the era of big data, and the security risk posed by artificial intelligence.
 
IV. China’s Human Rights Development Path  
 
The experts at the meeting analyzed and summarized the formation and characteristics of the Chinese human rights development path from multiple perspectives. Professor Liu Hainian, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Director of the Human Rights Research Center, put forward that China is embarking on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-around way. The Proposals of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for national Economic and Social Development and Long-Term goals to 2035 adopted by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China describes the blueprint for socialist development in our country. There is a principle that underlines the blueprint: to achieve all-around human development and a happy life for the people, that is, to safeguard human rights. It puts forward new requirements for the protection of human rights. We should earnestly study and understand Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, uphold that the rights to subsistence and development that are the primary basic human rights, enhance the cultural awareness of human rights, strengthen the coordinated mechanism for human rights, and strengthen exchanges and cooperation.
 
Lu Zhian, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at Fudan University, put forward his views on improving the mechanism of human rights protection in the process of the development of the Chinese human rights cause. He pointed out that the human rights protection mechanism is a highly recognizable symbol of the development of human rights. The guarantee mechanism of human rights can be divided into two parts: narrow sense and broad sense. In the narrow sense, the human rights protection mechanism refers to the relief mechanism, while in the broad sense, the human rights protection mechanism can further include a series of other mechanisms to promote, advance, and guarantee the development of human rights, such as the mechanisms of prevention, in-process promotion, post- event relief, and whole-process supervision. Because of the deficiency of prevention, supervision, and relief mechanisms in the current human rights protection mechanism, it is necessary to establish a human rights responsibility system, human rights impact assessment system, and improve the human rights monitoring, relief and coordination mechanism.
 
The active public policy implemented by China has played a unique role in enhancing the protection of human rights. Under the Western political tradition and human rights discourse system, it does not leave the necessary space and place for the governments to apply active public policies to protect human rights, said Professor Tang Xianxing, Deputy Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at Fudan University. But China’s unique political culture allows the ruling party, the State, and the government to play a more active role in protecting human rights the country has taken the initiative to assume the responsibilities for human rights, which is also the expectation of the public. The human rights practice in the West mainly relies on legal protection from the perspective of the practice of human rights protection. Tang added that China attaches great importance to the protection of human rights under the rule of law, but because human rights legislation is lagging behind and non-systematic, the protection and guarantee of human rights are achieved more through public policies and public actions.
 
According to Gong Xianghe, Executive Vice President of the Institute of Human Rights at Southeast University, China correctly handles the dialectical relationship between human rights and economic development by its human rights development path and makes steady and sound progress in the following three paths: human rights and economic development reinforce each other, come to take concerted action, and human rights drives economic development. By emphasizing the role of economic development in human rights, and giving full play to the dynamic and reactive role of human rights in economic development, it has put forward the harmonious coexistence of human rights and economic development.
 
Wang Liwan, Associate Professor at the Institute for Human Rights at China University of Political Science and Law, summed up the Chinese human rights development path as “a planned approach to human rights development” in four aspects. First, it is characterized by a top-down approach. The central government makes plans and arrangements, implemented by various departments and local governments at all levels, and coordinated by legislative and judicial organs.
 
The second is integrated multi-embedded development. The tasks of human rights embedded in the development agenda are assigned to specific functional departments so that the expression of human rights conforms to the overall development plan of the country and the work functions of government departments. The third is to set priorities in the human rights action plan and to orienting resources according to the priorities to ensure that the priorities are met. Fourth, many reasonable indicators should be set to ensure that the national human rights action plan is operable with the necessary space for development.
 
Associate Professor Liu Hongchun, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at Yunnan University, revealed the characteristics of China’s human rights development path by analyzing the three national human rights action plans formulated and implemented by China. By analyzing the contents of the national human rights action plans and their evaluation reports, he found that it is the mechanism of China’s human rights development path implied in the action plans and their evaluation reports that are gradually optimizing the environment for human rights protection, building the path of the right of claim for human rights protection, and earnestly protecting the rights of human rights entities. The words and doctrine, learning, and thinking in the Chinese human rights action plans and their evaluation reports imply the localization of human rights discourse, the institutionalization of human rights path, the rule of law of human rights norms, and the normalization of human rights evaluation, revealing the systematic construction of the cause of human rights of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It shows that the development path of human rights in China has transformed “policy declaration,” “legislative norm” and then “action determination.” It displays the process of Chinese human rights from due rights to legal rights and then to real rights, which is the underlying logic of the Chinese human rights development path. We should continue to optimize and enrich the physical environment, provide material conditions for protecting human rights, and build the basis for the right to claim for human rights protection, so as to effectively ensure the gradual and progressive development of the socialist human rights path with Chinese characteristics.
 
Li Junru, Vice Chairman of the China Society for Human Rights Studies and former Vice President of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, concluded that the seminar reached a high level, and a high degree of consensus, explored a series of basic categories such as human rights consciousness philosophy, discourse, theory, norms and so on, expounded Marxist human rights theory, reviewed the concepts related to human rights in Chinese excellent traditional culture. It also discussed the relationship between international human rights discourse and Western human rights discourse, as well as the human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics, summarized China’s international exchanges and cooperation in the field and the development path of human rights in China. Li said the seminar was of great significance and yielded great results. The great changes unseen in a century and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation have brought both opportunities and challenges to the study of human rights and the construction of the discourse system of human rights. We should seize opportunities and respond rationally to challenges by upholding the guiding principles of historical materialism, striving to study China’s basic national conditions, including China’s fine cultural traditions, especially the rich experience accumulated by the Chinese people in human rights practice under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and build a human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics based on China’s practice.
 
Report on Human rights Development in China (Blue Book on Human Rights) is compiled by the China Society for Human Rights Studies. Li Junru, Vice President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, serves as the Chief Editor, and Chang Jian, Director of the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University, is Deputy Chief Editor. The studio is in the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University. Since 2011, it has published 10 volumes and an English version. The Blue Book on Human Rights thoroughly interprets the annual highlights and achievements in the development of China’s human rights cause from an academic perspective, puts forward policy suggestions to promote the protection of various human rights, and makes prospects of the development of China’s human rights cause.
 
(Translated by YU Nan)

 
* CHANG Jian ( 常健 ), Director of Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University (National Human Rights Education and Training Base), Professor of Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University. 
 
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