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The Communist Party of China Has Always Been the Firm Core of Leadership for China’s Human Rights Development and Progress
November 21,2021   By:CSHRS
The Communist Party of China Has Always Been the Firm Core of Leadership for China’s Human Rights Development and Progress
 
GU Chunde*
 
Abstract: Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the human rights cause in China has developed and progressed through the period of democratic revolution, the early founding of the People’s Republic of China, the new period of reform and openingup, and the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. All previous National Congresses of the Communist Party of China have made illustrations and arrangements on human rights issues, and the successive Party leaders have made important expositions on human rights issues. The Party and the state have enacted a series of policies, laws, and regulations to protect human rights in various periods. China has made historic and great achievements in human rights practice and created a human rights development path suited to China’s national conditions. China’s human rights development over the past century has fully proved that the CPC has always been, and it remains, the firm core of leadership for China’s human rights development and progress.
 
Keywords: Communist Party of China · China’s human rights cause · firm core of leadership · experience and enlightenment
 
The past 100 years have witnessed the extraordinary journey of China and the Communist Party of China. It is not only a century in which the CPC has led the Chinese people to great success in revolution, development, and reform and opening-up but also a century in which the CPC has led the Chinese people to strive for, maintain, and protect human rights and a better life with remarkable historical achievements. In September 2019, on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, the State Council Information Office published a white paper titled Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China. The white paper points out that, “Living a happy life is the primary human right. Since the day of its foundation, the CPC has set its goal to work for the well-being of the people of China, for national rejuvenation, and human progress.”1 On the occasion of the centenary of the CPC, it is undoubtedly of great theoretical significance and practical value for further promoting the comprehensive, coordinated, and sustainable development of human rights in China to review the course of the struggle of the CPC to lead the Chinese people to strive for, maintain, and protect human rights and a better life, and discuss the basic experience of the development and progress of human rights in China.
 
I. Human Rights in China during the Democratic Revolution
 
Under the oppression of the three mountains of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic-capitalism, there were no human rights at all in the old China, which was ravaged by frequent wars, instability, a shattered economy, and a destitute populace. Even the minimum right to life and survival could not be guaranteed. After its founding in 1921, the CPC led the Chinese people to launch the national and democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism, making unyielding efforts to realize the independence of the country and safeguard the basic human rights of the people and opening up a new period of the Chinese national democratic revolution and the struggle for human rights of the Chinese people.
 
Chen Duxiu, the main founder and an early leader of the CPC, tried his best to promote the protection of human rights. He founded the journal New Youth and expounded on human rights many times in the journal after its launch to the founding of the CPC in 1921. He proposed that “equal importance” should first be attached “to science and human rights.”According to him, the role of human rights and science in the prosperity of the country is “like the two wheels for a vehicle” and “equal attention should be paid to science and human rights for getting the Chinese out of ignorance.”2 At this time, his view on human rights was “individual parochialism” or “liberalism.” He called for the emancipation of the people in the first article of New Youth, proposing “self-centered idea” and “independent and free personality.”3 He considered human rights as “the right to an independent personality” and the state of “being independent and not enslaved.” He also advocated seeking “political emancipation through destroying the monarchical power” and seeking “economic emancipation through promoting equalization of properties.”4 He supported freedom of thought and speech and took it as the “top priority for the evolution of civilization.”5 He advocated freedom of speech without the restriction of law. In his article Law and Freedom of Speech, he clarified that “law should only restrict the behavior of the people not their freedom of speech.”6 He also advocated resistance and the right to resistance. When he founded New Youth in 1915, he advocated the right to self-determination and autonomy, hoping to resist the invasion of imperialism and dark rule of feudal autocracy, object to genocide and ethnic discrimination, and promote equal rights for all ethnic groups. Chen believed that human rights could only be protected by the implementation of the Constitution. He said, “The freedom of thought and speech is for development of individual personality. All individuals are equal in front of the law. Individual freedom and rights should be ensured by the Constitution and shouldn’t be deprived by national law. All people, including slaves, should enjoy human rights without distinction. It is the great spirit of pure individualism.”7
 
Li Dazhao, another principal founder of the CPC, also advocated for human rights. He requested respect for the rights to life and subsistence of the people. He said, “The right to work should be equally enjoyed to ensure the people’s right to subsistence.” He advocated personal freedom and promoted the right to freedom of thought and speech. He said, “Thought is not dangerous in nature at all. Ignorance and hypocrisy are dangerous and it is the most dangerous behavior to prohibit freedom of thought”, “for any thought and speech, as long as they are allowed to be truly expressed without being pretentious, they would be good for life and no harm would be caused.” He suggested protecting human rights through the formulation and implementation of the Constitution. He said that “the Constitution is the spirit of modern citizens”, “the Constitution ensures the freedom of modern citizens”, and “the Constitution should be the belief of all citizens of the Republic of China.”8
 
These ideas of Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao on human rights have a considerable impact on the emergence and development of human rights concepts in China, so attention should be paid to the in-depth study of them.
 
A. Early period after the founding of the CPC
 
As early as 1922, the CPC published the Proposition to the Current Political Situation. It proposed doing away with the special privileges of imperialism in China and overthrowing the rule of warlords through revolution and demanded an unrestricted universal suffrage system be implemented, the freedom of association, assembly, speech, and publication be protected, corporal punishment abolished, and the equal rights of women be admitted to ensure the rights of the people.9 In July 1922, the CPC further clarified its political program to overthrow the oppression of international imperialism for realizing the complete independence of the Chinese nation and overthrowing the warlords to unify China into a true democratic republic in the Declaration of the Second National Congress of the CPC. It specifically proposed protecting the rights of people to vote and freedom of speech, publication, assembly, and strike.10 All people in the country were called on to “fight for freedom and independence.”11 In September 1922, Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and Li Lisan put forward the slogan that “all those used to be treated like livestock should rise to fight for their rights as a person” when they were organizing the strike of workers at Anyuan coal mine. When the Party was organizing the strike on the Beijing-Hankou Railway in 1923, it was put forward to “fight for freedom and human rights,” starting a nationwide fight for human rights.
 
In June 1923, the Resolution of the National Movement and Issues Relevant to the Kuomintang was adopted at the Third National Congress, realizing the first cooperation between the KMT and the CPC. The Three Principles of the People put forward by Sun Yat-sen were supported with emphasis laid on the rights to vote,initiative, referendum, and recall of duty. To effectively protect the rights to democracy and freedom, it was proposed at the Third National Congress of the CPC to include democracy in the constitution for enhancing its protection through legislation. Chen Duxiu, then General Secretary of the CPC, clearly pointed out in his report that “the moment to fight for democracy” should be promoted. Alliances for Democracy were founded in many parts of the country to struggle for democracy.
 
B. During the second revolutionary civil war
 
In September 1927, Mao Zedong launched and led the Autumn Harvest Uprising on the border between Hunan and Jiangxi and initially established the Jinggangshan Revolutionary Base. In April 1928, Zhu De and Chen Yi led the remainder of the Nanchang Uprising and the Peasant troops of the Southern Hunan Uprising to the Jinggangshan area. They joined forces with the troops led by Mao Zedong in the Autumn Harvest Uprising in Longshi town of Ninggang and founded the Fourth Army of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolutionary Army. With the founding of the Soviet government, all power was given to the masses of workers and peasants. On November 7, 1931, the First National Congress of Workers’ and Peasants’ Representatives was held in Ruijin of Jiangxi. The Constitutional Outline of the Chinese Soviet Republic (hereinafter referred to as the Constitutional Outline) was adopted during the congress. The following points were covered in it.
 
First, what the Chinese Soviet regime constructs is a democratic dictatorship country of the laborers and peasants. The entire political power of the Soviets belongs to the laborers and the peasants, the Red Army soldiers, and all laboring masses. Under the Soviet regime, all laborers, peasants, Red Army soldiers, and all working masses have the power to appoint representatives to grasp the management of political power.
 
Second, the Chinese Soviet regime has guaranteed the freedom of the worker,peasant, and toiling masses to speak, publish, assemble and form organizations as objective; it opposes bourgeois and landlord democracy and advocates worker and peasant democracy.
 
Third, the Chinese Soviet regime recognizes the right of national self determination of ethnic minorities within the borders of China... the Soviet regime will also develop their own national culture and national language among these nations.
 
Fourth, the Chinese Soviet regime has thoroughly improved the living situations of the working class as objective; it formulates a Labor Law, declares the eight-hour working day, formulates minimum wage standards, establishes social security systems and national unemployment benefits, and declares that workers have the power to supervise production.
 
Fifth, the Chinese Soviet regime has eliminated the feudal system and thoroughly improving peasants’ lives as objectives, it promulgates a Land Law, advocates the confiscation of all land of the landlord class, and its distribution to poor peasants and middle peasants, and has realized land nationalization as the objective.
 
Sixth, the Chinese Soviet regime has guaranteed the thorough implementation of women’s liberation as an objective, it recognizes the freedom of marriage, implements all sorts of means to protect women, to ensure that women can gradually obtain the material bases to separate themselves from the fetters of household duties, and to participate in the economic, political and cultural life of the society.
 
Seventh, the Chinese Soviet regime has guaranteed the right of working, peasant, and toiling masses to receive education as objective... the implementation of completely free-of-charge universal education should be begun...12
 
To realize the objective of the Chinese Soviet regime to “eliminate the feudal system and thoroughly improve peasants’ lives” as stipulated in the Constitutional Outline, the government of the Central Soviet Area issued the Land Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic in November 1931, providing detailed regulations on land issues in the Constitutional Outline to allocate impoverished peasants in the soviet area with land and ensure their land ownership.
 
To realize the objective of the Chinese Soviet regime to “thoroughly improve the living situations of the working class” stipulated in the Constitutional Outline, the government of the Central Soviet Area issued the Labor Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic in December 1931, providing detailed regulations to protect the political rights of workers, abolish feudal exploitation and outdated conventions and customs,object to the dismiss of workers for no reasons, improve the working conditions and raise the wages of workers, insist on equal pay for equal work, and promote labor protection and social insurance.
 
To realize the objective of the Chinese Soviet regime to “guarantee the thorough implementation of women’s liberation, recognize the freedom of marriage, and protect women” stipulated in the Constitutional Outline, the government of the Central Soviet Area issued the Marriage Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic, providing detailed regulations to set the principle of freedom of marriage for both male and female, abolish all marriage systems for arranged or forced marriages and mercenary marriages, prohibit child bride, implement monogamy, prohibit polyandrous and polygynous relationships, and clarify issues relevant to marriage, divorce, property after divorce as well as the care of children after divorce. The regulations of the Marriage Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic ensured the liberation of a great number of women and the protection of their interests.
 
Judging from these laws and regulations on the protection of human rights by the CPC and the Chinese Soviet regime, the subjects, contents, and objectives of human rights were quite clear and specific, yet there were some excessive measures. For example, the subjects of human rights in these laws and regulations were restricted to workers, peasants, soldiers, and other toiling masses, yet well-off peasants and the national bourgeoisie were excluded. Moreover, local tyrants and evil gentry were considered as the targets to be toppled. As a result, excessive measures were taken in the movement to crush the landlords and redistribute their land. The reason is certainly related to these people’s opposition to the revolution, yet the main reason is that the leadership of the CPC Central Committee lacked a thorough understanding of human rights and the influence of the erroneous lines. In this context, excessive measures and even mistakes in making policies and laws for the protection of human rights became inevitable. We should consider the historical background of the rapid development of the revolution and view the policies and laws issued by the Party and the Chinese Soviet regime correctly. The policies and laws for protecting human rights in history should not be evaluated from the perspective of the new situation.
 
C. During the war of resistance
 
During the 14 years of the War of Resistance, the CPC unified the fight against Japanese imperialism with the struggle for democracy and human rights. In 1935, the CPC published its Message to all Compatriots on Resistance against Japanese and National Salvation, known as the August 1 Declaration, to call on all compatriots who refused to become slaves to resist the Japanese for national salvation. “Fight for the life of the motherland! Fight for survival and democracy! Fight for national independence! Fight for territorial integrity! Fight for human rights and freedom!" Later, Mao Zedong further called on the people all over the country to “fight for the three great objectives of national independence, democracy and freedom, and people’s livelihoods.” He also stressed that “resistance” and “democracy” were top priorities of China at that time that should be integrated. He said that “resistance and democracy are interdependent” and “the core and essence of the revolutionary task history have set us is the winning of democracy.”13 For this purpose, he proposed to “let all the people of the country (except the traitors) have freedom of speech, the press, assembly and association in resisting Japan and saving the nation, and the right to take up arms against the enemy.”14 In 1940, Mao Zedong clarified in On Policy that “for the rights of the people, it must be laid down that all landlords and capitalists not opposed to the War of Resistance shall enjoy the same rights of person and property, the same right to vote and the same freedom of speech, assembly, association, political conviction and religious belief as to the workers and peasants.”15 On November 6, 1941, Mao Zedong reiterated in his speech at the Assembly of Representatives of the Shanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region that “throughout the country, the people should enjoy the freedom of the person, the right to take part in political activity and the right to protection of property. Throughout the country, the people should have the opportunity of voicing their opinions, and they should have clothes to wear, food to eat, work to do and schools to attend; in short, some provision should be made for everyone.”16 Obviously, the CPC had expanded the subjects of the human rights protection to “all landlords and capitalists not opposed to the War of Resistance, workers, and peasants” during the War of the Resistance. Meanwhile, the contents of human rights were enriched to cover “freedom of speech, assembly, association, political conviction, and religious belief” and “freedom of the person, the right to take part in political activity and the right to protection of property.”
 
In accordance with the instructions of Mao Zedong, the governments of anti-Japanese base areas made a series of programs, regulations, or laws to protect human rights, including the Policy Agenda of the Shanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region during the War of Resistance (April 1939), Policy Agenda of the Shanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region (November 1941), Policy Agenda of the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Border Region (July 1941), Policy Agenda for Consolidating and Development of Northwest Shanxi (October 1942), Policy Agenda of Shandong Province during the War (February 1944), and so on. These policy agendas cover provisions on the protection of human rights, including political rights, property rights, labor rights, the right of culture and education, the right of health, the right of women, and the right of ethnic minorities. For example, it was stipulated in the Policy Agenda of the Shanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region during the War of Resistance that “equal political and economic rights should be realized between the Mongolian and Hui nationalities and the Hans”, “democracy should be promoted with direct, universal, and equal election by secret ballot”, “the freedoms of speech, the press, association, residence, movement, and correspondence shall be guaranteed”, “the social, political and economic status of women should be raised under gender equality”, and “the property ownership and the interests in land reform of the people in border region should be protected.”17
 
Following the spirit and contents of these policy agendas, the governments of anti-Japanese base areas also made and implemented regulations on the protection of human rights, including the Regulations of Shandong Province on the Protection of Human Rights issued in November 1940, Regulations of Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region on the Protection of Human Rights and Property Rights issued in February 1942, Interim Regulations of Hebei-Shandong-Henan Border Region on the Protection of the People’s Rights issued in November 1941, Regulations of Northwest of Shanxi on the Protection of Human Rights issued in November 1942, and Rules for Implementing the Regulations of Bohai Region on the Protection of Human Rights issued in February 1943. These regulations provided more detailed provisions on the personal rights, property rights, freedom, and equal rights of the people stipulated in the policy agendas. For example, it was stipulated in the Regulations of Shandong Province on the Protection of Human Rights that “the freedoms of person and to join the anti-Japanese armed forces should be guaranteed”, “the freedoms of movement and residence should be guaranteed”, “the freedoms of speech, writing, publication, assembly, association, and correspondence should be guaranteed”, and “the freedoms of belief, religion, and political activity should be guaranteed.” It was stipulated in the Regulations of Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region on the Protection of Human Rights and Property Rights that “the rights of all people fighting against Japanese invaders in the border region to private property and the freedom to use their interests according to law should be protected.” It was stipulated in the Regulations of Northwest of Shanxi on the Protection of Human Rights that “the people should not be arrested, detained, interrogated or punished without the approval of the law.”18
 
These policy agendas and regulations for the protection of human rights implemented in the anti-Japanese base areas were comprehensive, detailed, and feasible in contents, providing effective legal protection for the people.
 
D. During the war of liberation
 
During the War of Liberation, the CPC led the people to defeat Chiang Kai-shek,overthrow the KMT reactionary rule, and liberate the whole country. Meanwhile, great importance was attached to the struggle for human rights. Mao Zedong called on the people all over the country to struggle to “protect human rights, improve the standard of living, and complete the reunification” and the people in the KMT controlled areas to fight “against hunger, civil war, and persecution” and to overthrow the dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek. In the old and newly liberated areas, the CPC led the democratic election of the representative conferences of the people from all circles, founded democratic governments, promoted the land reform movement, and ensured the command of rural power was in the hands of poor peasants and farm laborers. The democratic governments in the liberated areas continued to strengthen the legislation and practice of human rights protection and implemented policy agendas and regulations focusing on the protection of the “human rights, property rights, and civil rights” of the people, including Constitutional Principles of the Shanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region issued in 1946, Policy Agenda of Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Border Region Administrative Committee issued in 1945, Policy Agenda of Jiangsu-Anhui Border Region Temporary Administrative Committee issued in 1945, Policy Agenda of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Government issued in 1947, Policy of the North China People’s Government issued in 1948, Regulations of Harbin Special City Government on Prohibiting Illegal Arrests, Interrogations, Violation of Human Rights, and the Use of Torture to Extort Confessions issued in 1948, and Draft on the Provisional Organization of Judicial Organs at All Levels issued in 1947. It was clarified in these policies and regulations that “it is the consistent policy of the democratic governments to protect human rights” and “the protection of human rights is a major policy for the establishment of the order in the liberated areas.” In particular, it was pointed out that the democratic governments of the liberated areas should protect the people’s right to be immune from economic difficulty, poverty, ignorance, and unhealthy conditions.As Mao Zedong pointed out, “freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, political conviction, and religious belief and freedom of the person are the people’s most important freedoms. In China, only the Liberated Areas have given full effect to these freedoms.”19
 
Under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people finally toppled the three mountains oppressing them, won national independence and the basic right to subsistence, and realized liberation and became their masters after a heroic struggle for over two decades.
 
On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was founded, marking the great victory of the Chinese people in the struggle for human rights under the leadership of the CPC and Mao Zedong and laying a solid foundation for the progress in human rights in China.
 
II. Human Rights in China in the Early Days of the People’s Republic of China
 
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong also attached great importance to the people’s rights. He made many incisive expositions on democracy, freedom, rights, and obligations to reveal the class nature of bourgeois democracy, freedom, human rights, and human nature, as well as its hypocrisy, limitations, and deception. He also led the formulation of policies and laws for the protection of the people’s rights. In 1954, Mao Zedong presided over the formulation of the first socialist constitution in China, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which is the first socialist declaration of people’s rights in China. Although the term “human right” was not used, the Constitution set forth comprehensive and systematic provisions on the rights of the people.
 
First, it was announced that the People’s Republic of China is a people’s democratic state led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. Second, it was announced that the people’s congress system is the fundamental political system of China and all power in China belongs to the people. The National People's Congress and the local people’s congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise State power. Third, it was announced that citizens of China are equal before the law. They have the right to vote and stand for election, enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of procession, freedom of demonstration, freedom of religious belief, freedom of the persons, freedom of residence, and freedom to change their residence, have the right to work, rest, leisure, material assistance, education, bring complaints, compensation, and enjoy the freedom to engage in scientific research, literary and artistic creation and other cultural pursuits. Women in China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of political, economic, cultural, social, and domestic life. China safeguards the equal rights of ethnic minorities and their right to self-rule in ethnic autonomous areas. Other laws and policies were formulated to provide more detailed provisions on these rights, ensure that the citizens can exercise and realize these rights, and push forward the development of the protection of human rights in China.
 
In A Critique of Soviet Economics, Mao Zedong emphasized the rights of workers to manage the country, the army, various enterprises, culture, and education. “They are the greatest rights of workers under the socialist system. Without these rights, the rights of workers to work, rest, education, and so on, could hardly be guaranteed.”20 
 
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the CPC led the people to usher in a new period in China’s progress in human rights. In the 1950s, great progress and fundamental change were made in China’s human rights protection. It is mainly reflected in the following aspects.
 
First, with the founding of the PRC, China achieved complete national liberation and sovereignty independence, creating the basic condition for the extensive enjoyment of human rights by the people.
 
Second, the land reform abolished the feudal system of land ownership that allowed for exploitation by the landlord class and eradicated the foundation of feudal rule, which fundamentally changed the economic status and living conditions of peasants.
 
Third, factory management committees and workers’ congresses were set up through the democratic reform of the production and management of State-owned factories, mines, and transportation operators and hence made workers true masters of their enterprises, ensuring their rights to democratic management.
 
Fourth, economic recovery and development were promoted through the establishment of a complete national economic system and socialist economic system, and the people’s standard of living was improved, laying the economic foundation for the protection of the people’s right to subsistence.
 
Fifth, the position of the people as masters of the country was ensured through the establishment of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the system of the people’s congress. The management of State and social affairs by the people protected their democratic rights as masters of the country.
 
Sixth, the system of regional ethnic autonomy was established and implemented under the provisions of the Common Program and the 1954 Constitution. Through rejecting ethnic oppression and discrimination and forging an inter-ethnic relationship characterized by equality, mutual help, and unity, the rights of autonomy and equality for ethnic minorities were protected.
 
Seventh, the rights to democracy and freedom of the people were protected under the provisions of the Common Program and the 1954 Constitution, covering the right to vote and stand for election, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of procession, freedom of demonstration, freedom of religious belief, freedom of the persons, freedom of residence, freedom of religious belief, and freedom to change their residence.
 
Eighth, the feudal marriage system that sanctioned arranged or forced marriages, enabled men’s superiority over women, and neglected children’s interests was abolished through the promulgation and implementation of the Marriage Law, establishing a new marriage system featuring monogamy, freedom of marriage, gender equality, and protection of the legitimate interests of women and children.
 
III. Human Rights in China after the Reform and Opening-up
 
In 1976, the CPC Central Committee smashed the Gang of Four and ended the “Cultural Revolution”. The Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978 marked the beginning of China’s new historic journey of socialist modernization and reform and opening-up. Since the reform and opening-up, the CPC led the people to find a human rights development path in line with the national realities in China and promoted the historical progress of human rights in China.
 
A. Development process of human rights after the Reform and Opening-up
 
With the launch of reform and opening-up, the CPC led the people to find a human rights development path in line with the national realities in China and promoted the historical progress of human rights in China. The progress of human rights in this period can be divided into four stages.
 
The first stage was from the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee to 1988. It is characterized by the re-enlightenment of human rights thoughts. In the early days of the reform and opening-up, the “Cultural Revolution” had just ended. Considering the painful lessons of the “Cultural Revolution” during which democracy, the rule of law, and human rights were not guaranteed, the people called for democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights. Deng Xiaoping pointed out in the Conference of the CPC Central Committee in December 1978, “The rights of citizens, Party members, and Party committee members are respectively stipulated by the Constitution of the People’s Republic and the Constitution of the Communist Party. These rights must be resolutely defended and no infringement of them must be allowed.” He also said, “It is also essential to ensure the democratic rights of the workers and peasants, including the rights of democratic election, management, and supervision.”21 There were over 28 provisions on the basic rights of citizens in the 1982 Constitution, surpassing all previous ones. However, a small number of people took advantage of the psychology and demand of the public. They distorted the policy of the CPC to set things right and deliberately proposed to “fight for human rights” with the allegation that “only with human rights can we save China.” In response to the situation, Deng Xiaoping pointedly said in a speech in 1985, “What are human rights? Above all, how many people are they meant for? Do those rights belong to the minority, to the majority, or all the people in a country? Our concept of human rights is, in essence, different from that of the Western world, because we see the question from a different point of view.” 22 The incisive explanation of Deng Xiaoping clearly distinguished between socialist human rights and bourgeois human rights, emphasized the necessity to criticize the bourgeois human rights concept, and exposed the nature of bourgeois human rights, pointing out the correct political direction for the development of human rights in China. It should be noted that some people were still not free from the ideological constraints of the “Left” thinking. They erroneously held that human rights were merely the slogan and ideology of the bourgeoisie and “respect for human rights” under the dictatorship of the proletariat was a form of “protest” against the Party and government. This misunderstanding undermined the normal progress of human rights in China. Therefore, it is still necessary and urgent to carry out human rights enlightenment among cadres and young students and help them establish a correct concept of human rights today.
 
The second stage was from 1989 to the end of the 20th century. It was a stage in which China held up the banner of human rights. At this stage, China faced a very complicated historical background for the progress of human rights. After the political turmoil in Beijing in 1989, a small number of supporters for bourgeois liberalization took “human rights” as the excuse to slander the Party and government. In particular, the United States proposed and implemented its “human rights diplomacy” policy in the early 1980s, hoping to Westernize, divide, and disintegrate socialist countries. After the drastic changes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern European socialist countries in the early 1990s, the United Staes shifted its focus to socialist China. Facing the challenge of the complex and volatile domestic and international situation, China smashed the intention of the United States and some other Western countries to Westernize and divide the country by revealing the essence of the “human rights diplomacy” of major Western countries and criticizing their deceptive human rights concept. Meanwhile, China adhered to the basic line of the CPC and the democratic and legal system were improved to protect the human rights of the Chinese people. To this end, the State Council Information Office of China published its first official document and white paper on human rights, Human Rights in China, in November 1991. With this, China confidently held up the banner of human rights. Using “human rights” for the first time, it declared that “full enjoyment of human rights is and always has been a goal of all peoples” and “it is a long-term task of the great historical significance of the Chinese people and government” to realize the goal. The stand, viewpoint, and policy of China on human rights are announced and it is clarified that “the right to subsistence is the primary human right of the Chinese people.” In this way, the good image of China to recognize, respect for, and protect human rights has been established, which has been well acclaimed by the international community.
 
It should be noted that the report of the 15th CPC National Congress clearly stated for the first time that “as a ruling party, the Communist Party leads and supports the people in exercising the power of running the state, holding democratic elections, democratically making policy decisions, instituting democratic management and supervision, ensuring that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedom endowed by law, and respecting and guaranteeing human rights.” “Respecting and guaranteeing human rights” are recognized and treated from the height of the governing mission and governance principle of the CPC. It has become the correct guideline for promoting the progress of human rights in China.
 
It should be noted that Jiang Zemin put forth a series of important propositions on human rights issues in the 1990s, including the rights to life and development are primary basic human rights; human rights are a matter completely within the sovereignty of a country and China opposes interference in China’s domestic affairs under the pretext of human rights; we should promote the coordinate development of individual rights and collective rights as well as civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights; the fundamental way to ensure human rights is social progress and economic development; the international community should cooperate based on equality and mutual respect to jointly promote the progress of human rights worldwide. These propositions point out the correct direction for the development of human rights in China while enriching and developing the basic connotation of human rights.
 
The third stage of China’s progress in human rights started from the beginning of the new century. This was a stage that witnessed great development of China’s human rights. In 2002, it was reiterated in the report of the 16th CPC National Congress that “it is essential to improve the systems of democracy, develop diverse forms of democracy, expand citizens’ participation in political affairs in an orderly way, and ensure that the people go in for democratic elections and decision-making, exercise democratic management and supervision according to the law and enjoy extensive rights and freedoms and that human rights are respected and guaranteed.” Meanwhile, “human rights are respected and guaranteed” was included in the CPC Constitution. “Improve the systems of democracy, develop diverse forms of democracy, expand citizens’ participation in political affairs in an orderly way” should be the essential part and basic requirements of “civil and political rights.” Therefore, it became the new content and target for the development of human rights in China.
 
After the 16th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary concluded the successful experience of China in the process of reform and opening-up and the modernization drive, creatively proposed the new vision on development and strategic tasks of putting the people first, the scientific outlook on development, and building a socialist harmonious society based on the major judgment of the nature of socialism and the needs of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and made specific arrangements for the implementation of the tasks under the new vision. “Put the people first” stresses the fundamental interests and rights of the people. The scientific outlook on development is characterized by allaround, balanced, and sustainable development. A harmonious society is democratic and law-based, fair and just, trustworthy and friendly, full of vigor and vitality, secure and orderly, and in which people and nature are in harmony. The holistic approach of “putting the people first,” “scientific outlook on development,” and “a harmonious society” is closely related to human rights and even reflects human rights in essence. Therefore, they would inevitably become the new vision and guidelines for the scientific development of human rights in China.
 
In 2004, the amendment adopted at the Second Session of the 10th NPC added the line “The state respects and preserves human rights” into the Constitution, turning it from the consistent policy of the CPC and the government into the will of the people and the state as a basic principle of the Constitution. Since then, the development of China’s human rights has gained a reliable constitutional basis and guarantee.
 
The report of the 17th CPC National Congress further developed the human rights theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The rights of people were highlighted, the right to democracy was expanded, and the concept of equal and all around development was proposed. It was put forward that “we need to improve the institutions for democracy, diversify its forms, expand its channels, and guarantee the people’s rights to be informed, to participate, to be heard, and to oversee.” It was stressed to accelerate social development with the focus on improving people’s livelihoods to “build a harmonious society in which all people are well educated, workers well paid, patients well treated, elders well-tended, and families well accommodated.” It was also emphasized that “we must respect and guarantee human rights, and ensure the equal right to participation and development for all members of society in accordance with the law.”23 On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2008, Hu Jintao spoke highly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its significant impact as well as the historical progress of human rights in China in a letter to the China Society for Human Rights Studies. He proposed that “we should always put the people first. The universal human rights principle should be combined with China’s national conditions to uphold the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights. The equal rights for all society members to participate in governance and develop themselves should be guaranteed in accordance with the law in the sound and rapid development of the economy and society.”24 All these statements have enriched and developed the basic connotation of China’s human rights and pointed out the correct political direction and development path for the scientific development of China’s human rights.
 
The fourth stage is characterized by the planned all-around development of human rights in China. With the approval and authorization of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the State Council Information Office published the first National Human Rights Action Plan, namely National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2010) in April 2009. It is an important programmatic policy document of the Chinese government for promoting the all-around development of human rights in China. With distinctive features, it has clear and correct guidelines and basic principles, rich and comprehensive contents, and practical and feasible policy measures and goals. Since its publication in 2009, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, departments of the Central government and governments at all levels have performed their duties and shouldered on their respective responsibilities in implementing the tasks specified in the National Human Rights Action Plan. At this point, the development of human rights in China entered a new stage.
 
B. Great achievements in human rights protection after the launch of Reform and Opening-up
 
Under the firm leadership of the CPC, China has made remarkable progress in human rights protection that has captured the world’s attention after the launch of the reform and opening-up.
 
First, China has achieved breakthroughs in the protection of the rights to subsistence and development. With the sound and fast development of the economy and society, the standards and quality of people’s lives have been continuously improved, the poverty-stricken population has been gradually reduced, people are becoming healthier, and the public health system has been constantly improved.
 
Second, China has made substantial progress in the protection of the citizens’ civil and political rights. The system of people’s congresses, the system of Partyled multiparty cooperation and political consultation, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the system of community-level self-governance have been continuously improved. Administration in accordance with the law has been actively promoted. Citizens’ freedom of speech on the internet and rights to make criticism, suggestions, petition, accusations, and charges have been protected in accordance with the law. The legislation, law enforcement, and the judiciary relevant to human rights have been reinforced. A socialist legal framework for the protection of human rights with the Constitution at the core and covering administrative regulations and local laws and regulations has taken shape, ensuring law-based human rights protection.
 
Third, China has made great progress in the protection of the people’s economic, social, and cultural rights. The right to employment of workers is protected by law. The system for developing vocational training, improving the employment capability of workers, and providing social insurance has been improved. The right of citizens to education is protected by law. The cultural life of the people has been enriched with the fast development of public cultural services. The right of citizens to private property is protected by law.
 
Fourth, China has introduced a range of new measures for the protection of the equal rights of ethnic minorities and their right to autonomy in the ethnic autonomous regions. The right of ethnic minorities to participate in the management of state and regional affairs on an equal footing is protected by law. Owing to increased state support for ethnic minority areas, the people’s standard of living, the public health system, and the education level of ethnic minorities have been continuously improved.
 
Fifth, China has made new progress in the protection of the rights and interests of disabled people. The laws and regulations concerning the protection of the rights and interests of disabled people have been improved to strengthen the protection of their rights and interests by law. The social security system and public services system for disabled people have been upgraded. The rehabilitation and education of disabled people have been enhanced. The public services for disabled people have been improved and their cultural life has been continuously enriched.
 
All these improvements fully demonstrate that the period witnessed the historical progress of human rights in China and marked the best period of human rights protection of China in history. Nevertheless, there is no denying that unbalanced and inadequate social and economic development directly affect the protection of human rights in China. Human rights protection in China is not always satisfactory because there are still many problems. The institution for human rights protection needs to be improved. The public health system needs to be strengthened. Due to the lack of medical resources and their uneven distribution, the problem of inadequate and overly expensive medical services should be solved. The gap between the rich and poor countries is widening and about 16 million people should be lifted from absolute poverty. There is severe pressure on employment. Social problems resulting from illegal land expropriations and housing demolitions are increasing. The rights of relevant parties are frequently infringed in the judicial process and miscarriage of justice should be avoided. These problems that the masses are most concerned about are in close relation to human rights protection and some of them are human rights issues. The Chinese government has taken effective measures (including making and implementing the “the Outline of the 13th Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development”) and made unremitting efforts to solve these problems more quickly, promote greater progress in human rights protection, actually protect human rights, and ensure that the people live a happier life with more dignity. But, it should be noted that China’s human rights theory was not fully in place and still lagged behind the progress of human rights protection in China. It is a problem that needed paying close attention to and solving.
 
IV. Human Rights Protection in the New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
 
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has made a series of important propositions on human rights to fully adapt the Marxism human rights theories to China’s conditions and make great theoretical achievements, charting the correct political course for the development of human rights protection in the new era.
 
General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that: human rights protection is an ongoing process that will never stop; there is always room for improving human rights; living a happy life is the primary human right; there is no universally applicable model, and human rights can only advance in the context of national conditions and people’s needs. The international community should uphold the shared values of humanity — peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, strive for fairer, more reasonable and inclusive global human rights governance, and jointly build a community with a shared future for human beings. China is exploring a path of human rights protection with Chinese characteristics based on the combination of the universal human rights principle with China’s national conditions, espouses a people centered view of human rights, regards the rights to subsistence and development as the primary and basic human rights, and promotes the protection of the economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental rights of people all over the world in a coordinated manner. It upholds social fairness and justice and promotes the wellrounded development of individuals and all-round social progress.
 
A. A new era for the development of the human rights protection in China 
 
The 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 ushered in a new era of human rights protection in China.
 
It was proposed in the Report to the 18th CPC National Congress that we should promote the core socialist values including prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship, reflecting the essential contents and basic requirements of human rights protection in China. The core socialist values further enrich human rights theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the scientific connotations of the Marxist human rights theories adapted to China’s conditions.
 
In the Report to the 18th CPC National Congress, the principle that “human rights should be fully respected and protected” was defined as one of the strategic goals in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and deepening reform and opening-up across the board, making it a core concept and value indicator for the CPC in the governance and rejuvenation of the country in the new era.
 
The principal position of the people was put in a more prominent position in the Report to the 18th CPC National Congress. It was emphasized that we must ensure that the people are the masters of the country and that development is for the people and is reliant on the people, and that its fruits are to be shared by the people. It was stressed that “we should mobilize and organize as many people as possible to manage state and social affairs as well as the economy and cultural programs in accordance with the law and that the county should devote itself to socialist modernization, and we should better protect the people’s rights and interests and ensure that the people determine their destiny.”25
 
The contents of citizens’ civil and political rights were further expanded in the Report to the 18th CPC National Congress through highlighting the people’s rights to be informed, to participate, to be heard, and to oversee and ensure that the people conduct democratic elections, decision-making, administration and oversight in accordance with the law. It was required that “we should work harder to enhance socialist democracy systemically by adopting due standards and procedures, expand people’s orderly participation in governance at all levels and in all fields, and ensure that all governance functions are performed in accordance with the law.” It was also required that “we should step up efforts to develop institutions that are vital to ensuring social fairness and justice; establish in due course a system for guaranteeing fairness in society featuring, among other things, equal rights, equal opportunities and fair rules for all; and foster a fair social environment and ensure people’s equal right to participation in governance and development.”26
 
The rights of the people to subsistence, development, culture, and environment were pushed to a new historical height in the Report to the 18th CPC National Congress. It was stressed that the overall plan for building socialism with Chinese characteristics is the five-sphere integrated plan and China should take economic development as the central task and scientifically pursuing development as the underlying guideline, advance in an all-around way economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress and achieve in a scientific way development that puts people first and is comprehensive, balanced and sustainable. The five aspects cover rich human rights connotations and the human rights protection in China has been promoted in the five-sphere integrated overall plan. Therefore, the progress in five aspects reflects the progress of human rights in China in a sense. Economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress would better ensure the realization of the people’s rights to subsistence, development, politics, culture, society, and environment.
 
With the successive promulgation of the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015) and the National Human Rights Action Plan (2016-2020), China has made continuous progress in human rights under the new objectives, tasks, and specific measures since 2012.
 
B. New plans for the human rights protection in the new era
 
New plans, demands, and measures for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and the protection of human rights of China in the new era were put forward during the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017.
 
It was declared in the Report to the 19th CPC National Congress that “Chinese socialism has crossed the threshold into a new era,” establishing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guiding ideology of the CPC and the country.27 Therefore, we should develop a good grasp of the scientific substance, historic juncture, and basic characteristics of the new era to set off from a new starting point, embark on a new journey, and fulfill the new mission. We should thoroughly understand the historical background, scientific system, rich contents, theoretical substance, and practical requirements as well as the great political, theoretical, and practical significance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and make consistent efforts to implement it in the great practice to push forward socialism with Chinese characteristics.
 
New plans, demands, and measures for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era were put forward and determined in the Report to the 19th CPC National Congress, which stressed that it was necessary to “ensure Party leadership over all work”, “maintain the people-centered philosophy”, “stay committed to deepening reform across the board”, “adopt a new vision for development”, “respect the importance of the people as masters of the country”, “ensure every dimension of governance is law-based”, “uphold core socialist values”, “ensure and improve living standards through development”, “ensure harmony between human and nature”, “pursue a holistic approach to national security”, and “promoting the building of a community with a shared future for human beings” 28 These new plans, demands, and measures are in close relation to human rights protection and some of them are human rights issues. Therefore, human rights protection in the new era should focus on the implementation of these new plans, demands, and measures.
 
The Report to the 19th CPC National Congress focused on “keeping up with people’s ever-growing needs for a better life” and “better protecting and improving people’s livelihoods.” New plans, demands, and measures for promoting human rights protection in the new era were put forward and determined in such parts as “Improving the System of Institutions through Which the People Run the Country and Developing Socialist Democracy” and in particular “Growing Better at Ensuring and Improving People’s Wellbeing and Strengthening and Developing New Approaches to Social Governance.” With the implementation of these new plans, demands, and measures in practice, China will realize greater progress in human rights protection in the new era, guarantee better protection of the people’s rights to subsistence, development, politics, culture, society, and environment, realize the equal rights of the people to participate in governance and develop themselves, and promote the well-rounded development of the person and all-round social progress.
 
C. Follow a people-centered philosophy of development
 
In line with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China is following a people-centered development philosophy, has thoroughly put into practice the new plans, demands, and measures of the CPC Central Committee for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and human rights protection, and made great progress in human rights in the new era. By 2020, all tasks and objectives for economic and social development outlined in the 13th Five-year Plan had been completed on schedule, breakthroughs had been made in the comprehensive deepening of reform, major advances had been achieved in the law based governance, and major progress had been made in comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline. With the accelerating modernization of China’s governance system and capacity, China has demonstrated the powerful strength of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC.
 
China’s economy, scientific and technological capabilities and comprehensive national power have increased considerably, cultural programs and the cultural industry have developed rapidly, the living standards of Chinese people have risen significantly, and the building of a moderately prosperous society has been successfully achieved. With the completion of the building of a moderately prosperous society, human rights protection in China has realized all-around development and progress. All-round, holistic, balanced, and sustainable development and historic progress have been made in terms of the rights to life, subsistence, and development of the people, the economic, social, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, and the rights to peace, environment, and happiness.
 
— The 19th CPC National Congress defined targeted poverty elimination as one of the three crucial battles in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and made a new arrangement for it. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, China mobilized the energies of the whole Party, the whole country, and the whole society to try the best in taking a series of effective measures such as issuing preferential policies, launching sector-specific programs, providing technological support, giving financial aids, and relocating poor people from inhospitable areas. With the implementation of targeted poverty reduction and alleviation measures, the problems of regional poverty have been solved and poverty alleviation has reached those who truly need it and delivered genuine outcomes. With the concerted, pragmatic, and persistent efforts of the Party and the Chinese people, especially the hard work of cadres and the people in the poverty-stricken areas, China had secured a comprehensive victory in the fight against poverty and the dream of the Chinese people to finally rid the country of abject of poverty had been realized. The 98.99 million people in rural areas who were living below the current poverty threshold all shook off poverty and 832 designated poor counties and all the 128,000 impoverished villages got rid of poverty. China has eliminated poverty over entire regions and eradicated extreme poverty, making an outstanding and historic achievement.
 
— The Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China, which has been called “the declaration of civil rights”, was published in 2019 and officially put into effect in 2021. Providing more solid legal support and institutional safeguards for the civil rights of citizens, including property rights, right of inheritance, right to marriage, and right to dignity, it is a milestone in the history of human rights protection in accordance with the law in China.
 
— After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in early 2020, under the leadership, command, and deployment of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, China put protecting the people and human life above everything else, mobilized all resources, ensured science-based control and treatment, and implemented targeted measures to treat all infected people and patients. With resolute determination to curb the spread of the epidemic, the Party, the Army, and the people worked as one and fought in unison against the epidemic. After months of strenuous efforts, China finally won the battle against the epidemic. With a major victory in the fight against the epidemic won and its major strategic success in the response to COVID-19, China has saved and protected the lives and health of hundreds of millions of people and won acclaim from the international community.
 
— With the completion of the strategic objective to build a moderately prosperous society, China has made greater progress in “people’s access to childcare, education, employment, medical services, elderly care, housing, and social assistance.” The well-off life of the people ensures better protection for their rights to subsistence and development.
 
— With the historic achievements of China in human rights protection, new progress has been made in the development of theoretical and discursive systems for human rights. A set of theoretical and discursive systems for human rights under the people-centered philosophy has taken shape, providing theoretical support for the progress of human rights in China and winning the louder voice of China in the field of international human rights protection.
 
In conclusion, China has promoted the development of its human rights protection in the new era under the guidance of the new vision on the development of Xi Jinping to put the people first in the process of the strengthening of the rule of law, the completion of poverty alleviation and building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and the realization of the objectives of the 13th Five-year Plan, demonstrating the new characteristics of the progress of human rights in China in the new era.
 
At present, China is earnestly implementing the arrangements and demands for developing human rights established during the 19th CPC National Congress to follow a people-centered development philosophy and a new development vision, accelerate the establishment of a public service system, improve the system of oldage services, the system of social assistance, the service system for rehabilitation of disabled persons, and the welfare and service system for children, and improve the people’s standard of living with more targeted and detailed services. Meanwhile, China will fulfill the goals and tasks set in the 14th Five-year Plan and further promote the comprehensive, coordinated, sustainable, and high-quality development of human rights protection in China in the new journey to fully build a modern socialist country.
 
V. Experience and Enlightenment of the Development and Progress of Human Rights Protection in China
 
The CPC has led the Chinese people to combine the universality principle of human rights with the particularity of the history, culture, and reality of China, opened a new path of human rights protection with Chinese characteristics based on its national conditions, and gradually established a theoretical and discursive system for human rights as well as a system of basic institutional and legal guarantees with Chinese characteristics. In the process, it has considered the basic principles of Marxism and the long-term practice of revolution, development, and reform and opening-up, in particular the new experience of the human rights protection under socialism with Chinese characteristics over the past 40 years, inherited the reasonable ideas relevant to human rights in human culture of all times and from both at home and abroad, and actively participated in the international human rights activities and struggles for human rights against foreign countries.29
 
The experience and enlightenment of the development and progress of human rights protection in China can be concluded as follows.
 
First, China should unwaveringly uphold the leadership of the CPC in the development and progress of its human rights protection. In the past, the CPC has led the Chinese people in unyielding efforts to strive for, improve, and realize human rights. At present, China has made remarkable progress in human rights protection under the strong leadership of the CPC. History has proven and will continue to prove that the CPC has always been the firm core of leadership for China’s human rights development and progress as well as the supporter, practitioner, and promoter of human rights protection. It is the CPC that leads the theory and practice of human rights protection in China. It is also the CPC that takes respecting and guaranteeing human rights as a basic principle for governing the country. It is still the CPC that guides the principles and policies, publicity and education, development pattern, protection model, international cooperation and dialogue, and participation in international human rights affairs of China in its development and progress of human rights. The experience of the progress of human rights protection in the past century could be concluded in one sentence: There would be no progress in the human rights of China without the strong leadership of the CPC. Therefore, we should further strengthen the strong leadership of the CPC over the development of human rights protection to ensure its high-quality development along the direction of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
 
Second, China should follow the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development, and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in promoting the progress of human rights protection. The human rights practice should be under the guidance of the Marxist human rights theories and human rights theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics. China should continue to follow a people-centered development philosophy and a new development vision, ensure the principal status of the people, and promote the comprehensive, coordinated, and sustainable development of human rights. China should uphold the rights to subsistence and development of the people as the primary human rights while developing the economic, social, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights. China should also promote the coordinated development of individual rights and collective rights. Meanwhile, two basic relationships, namely the relationships between rights and obligations and between power and rights should be clarified in the development of human rights. China should coordinate the research and practice of sovereignty and human rights, domestic and international human rights, and human rights and social theory to keep up with people’s ever-growing needs for human rights.
 
Third, China should insist on respect for both the universality of human rights and the national conditions of China in the progress and development of human rights. The universality of the concept, subject, content, and value of human rights should be recognized and respected. In terms of its national conditions, China should consider its position at the primary stage of socialism, its economic, social, and cultural development level, and its national system, political system, legal system, and the wish and demand of its people to take coordinated action that covers all sectors and focus on clear priorities with a scientific approach to development. Any thoughts and practices to separate the universality and particularity of human rights, or set them against each other, are wrong and not favorable for the progress of human rights in China.
 
Fourth, China should establish a comprehensive system for promoting and protecting human rights, improve the legal system for human rights protection, and enhance the legislation, law enforcement, and judicial protection of human rights to improve the protection of human rights in accordance with the law. China should adhere to the path of human rights development that fits its national conditions. China should proceed from China’s specific situation, follow a people-centered development philosophy, and prioritize the right to subsistence and the right to development of the people. In this way, progress in human rights could be achieved in the benign interaction of reform, development, and stability. “Social stability is the foundation for the realization of human rights. Economic development is the prerequisite for the improvement of human rights. Sustainable reform is the driving force of human rights protection. The rule of law is the guarantee of human rights protection.”30 Therefore, social stability, economic development, deepening of reform, and the rule of law should be integrated to promote the comprehensive development of human rights protection of China in the new era.
 
(Translated by HU Liang)
 
* GU Chunde ( 谷春德 ), Professor of Law School, Renmin University of China.
 
1. The State Council Information Office, “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China,” People’s Daily, September 23, 2019.
 
2. Chen Duxiu, Collected Works of Chen Duxiu, Vol 1 (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 2013), 95.
 
3. Ibid., 91.
 
4. Ibid., 90.
 
5. Ibid., 411.
 
6. Ibid.
 
7. Ibid., 127.
 
8. Li Dazhao, Collected Works of Li Dazhao, the 1st Half (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 1984), 8, 53, 157 and 168.
 
9. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 1 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 97 and 98.
 
10. Ibid., 133.
 
11. Ibid., 134.
 
12. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru, A Collection of Selected Legal Documents of the Revolutionary Base Areas in the Period of the New Democratic Revolution, vol. 4 (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 1984), 13-16.
 
13. Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, vol. 1 (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 1991), 274.
 
14. Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, vol. 2 (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 1991), 355.
 
15. Ibid., 768.
 
16. Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, vol. 3 (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 1991), 808.
 
17. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru, A Collection of Selected Legal Documents of the Revolutionary Base Areas in the Period of the New Democratic Revolution, vol. 1 (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 1981), 31-33.
 
18. Ibid., 90-92.
 
19. Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, vol. 3 (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 1991), 1070.
 
20. Mao Zedong, Complete Works of Mao Zedong, Volume IIX (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1999), 129.
 
21. Deng Xiaoping, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume II (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 1994),144 and 146.
 
22. Deng Xiaoping, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, vol. 3 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1994), 125.
 
23. Hu Jintao, Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive for New Victories in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in all Respects (Beijing: the People’s Publishing House, 2007), 29-31.
 
24. Hu Jintao, “Insist on Putting the People First and Promote the Progress in Human Rights,” People’s Daily, December 12, 2008.
 
25. Hu Jintao, “Firmly March on the Path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive to Complete the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in all Respects,” People’s Daily, November 18, 2012.
 
26. Ibid.
 
27. Xi Jinping, “Secure a Decisive Victory in Finishing the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in all Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” People’s Daily, October 28, 2017.
 
28. Ibid.
 
29. Luo Haocai, “Actively Promote the Development and Innovation of Human Rights Theories in China”, Human Rights 5 (2011).
 
30. He Zhipeng, “A ‘People-centered’ Approach: The Chinese Deciphering of the Human Rights Theory”, Human Rights 2 (2020): 11.