Home > NEWS > CHINA > POLITICS >

SCIO briefing on the CPC's philosophy and practice of respecting and safeguarding human rights
July 02,2021   By:China.org.cn
Speakers:
 
Lu Guangjin, secretary-general of the China Society for Human Rights Studies and professor at the School of Law of Jilin University
 
Li Xiao, first-level inspector of the Research Office of the Supreme People's Court
 
He Zhipeng, dean of the School of Law of Jilin University and director of Jilin University Human Rights Research Center
 
Zhang Wanhong, executive dean of the Institute of Human Rights Studies of Wuhan University
 
Chairperson:
 
Shou Xiaoli, deputy head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and SCIO spokesperson
 
Date: 
 
June 24, 2021

 
 
Shou Xiaoli:
 
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Today, the State Council Information Office (SCIO) released a white paper titled "The Communist Party of China and Human Rights Protection – A 100-Year Quest." We are holding a briefing here today to introduce relevant information on the CPC's philosophy and practice of respecting and safeguarding human rights. We will also take questions. Today, we are joined by Mr. Lu Guangjin, secretary-general of the China Society for Human Rights Studies and professor at the School of Law of Jilin University; Ms. Li Xiao, first-level inspector of the Research Office of the Supreme People's Court; Mr. He Zhipeng, dean of the School of Law of Jilin University and director of Jilin University Human Rights Center; and Mr. Zhang Wanhong, executive dean of the Institute of Human Rights of Wuhan University. 
 
Next, I will give the floor to Mr. Lu.
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
Friends from the media, good afternoon!
 
This morning, the SCIO issued a white paper titled "The Communist Party of China and Human Rights Protection – A 100-Year Quest," which systematically explains the achievements of the CPC in respecting and protecting human rights over the past 100 years. On the occasion of celebrating the CPC centenary, the release of such a white paper is of special significance and will help the international community gain a comprehensive and multi-dimensional understanding of the CPC and the logic of China's human rights development. We hope this will help them have a panoramic view of China. Today, four scholars from the China Society for Human Rights Studies would like to communicate with journalists here on the practice of the CPC in respecting and protecting human rights.
 
As you all know, the CPC's founding mission was to seek happiness for the Chinese people, rejuvenate the Chinese nation, and do common good for the world. The CPC was born to advance human rights and has continued to grow and develop because of human rights progress. Over the past 100 years, under the leadership of the CPC, China has made great achievements in the area of human rights. I would like to summarize the progress from the following three aspects.
 
First, China has made new achievements in respecting and protecting human rights. Over the past 100 years, the CPC has united and led the people in toppling the "three mountains" of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism, founded the People's Republic of China (PRC), completed the New Democratic Revolution and the Socialist Revolution, carried out reform and opening up, and ushered in a new era of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The CPC adheres to the principle of the people's democracy, established a national system ensuring the people's position as masters of the country, and guaranteed that all power in the country belongs to the people. The CPC has led the people to achieve a comprehensive victory in the fight against poverty and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The people's basic rights such as the right to life and health, the right to employment, and the right to education are better protected.
 
Second, China has framed a new concept of respecting and protecting human rights. The CPC has always adhered to the people-centered approach to human rights, and has continuously enhanced the people's sense of gain, happiness, and security. The CPC regards the rights to subsistence and development as the primary and basic human rights and believes that living a life of contentment is the ultimate human right. It promotes comprehensive progress in human rights, the well-rounded development of all the people, and the coordinated development of civil rights, political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights, and ensures that people have equal opportunities for development and possess dignity and value of life.
 
Third, China has blazed a new path of human rights protection. The CPC believes that human rights are the gains of the progress of human civilization and are universal. At the same time, human rights are also historical, specific, and in a constant ongoing process of development. There is no end to human rights development, and human rights protection is an ongoing cause. There is no universal human rights standard or model, and each country should apply the principle of universality of human rights in the context of its own national conditions. The CPC has enriched and developed Marxist human rights doctrine with its own successful practices, showing a new successful model of human rights progress in the 21st century.
 
We often say that without the CPC, there would be no new China. Likewise, without the CPC, there would be no progress in China's human rights protection today. At present, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the Chinese people are working hard to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and the second centenary goal: to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the centenary of the PRC (2049). We will promote China's human rights protection to a higher level and make new progress. 
 
This is the basic introduction. We would like to communicate with you on issues of your concern and on this white paper. Please ask your questions.
 
Shou Xiaoli:
 
Thank you, Professor Lu Guangjin. Now, the floor is open for questions. Please identify your news outlets before asking questions.
 
CGTN:
 
We noticed that the 47th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, and representatives of the Chinese government and social organizations have actively participated in the event. Can you tell us about China's long-term efforts to promote global human rights governance? Thank you.
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
The conference is being held currently and all parties are concerned about China's efforts in advancing global human rights progress over the years. Professor He Zhipeng is an expert in this field. He will take your question. 
 
He Zhipeng:
 
I feel honored to have the opportunity to exchange views with you on this issue. If you have read our white paper, you may have seen that this topic is discussed in part six. I will elaborate more on that basis. China's contribution to the governance of human rights in the world can be understood from two aspects: the human rights systems and mechanisms in a narrow sense and in a broad sense. The systems and mechanisms for respecting and protecting human rights in a narrow sense refers to the UNHRC you mentioned just now, which was previously called the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). We all know that China was once excluded from the UN system for a long time, so during that time we did not have the opportunity to have direct contact with the UN's human rights mechanism. Since China recovered its legitimate seat at the UN in 1971, it has played an active role in relevant events. In 1979, we joined the UNCHR as an observer and attended its annual meetings for three consecutive years. In 1982, China became an official member state of the UNCHR and has maintained this position ever since. China's participation in UNCHR activities not only demonstrated China's own human rights views and propositions, but also made known to the world China's efforts to respect and protect human rights. From 1981 to 2006, we were fully involved in the activities of the UNCHR. In 2006, the UNCHR was replaced with the UNHRC due to a series of problems that many of you may know. For example, the UNCHR had long been used as a tool for political struggles, that is to say, some Western countries including the United States often used the Commission as a platform to criticize China. Every time, we gave effective responses to such issues during the annual session of the Commission. In fact, at the UN level, everyone realized that such a human rights governance system was unsustainable. In other words, the human rights protection goals couldn't be achieved. Therefore, starting in 2006, amidst the call for reform, the UNHRC was established. China has always participated in the activities of the UNHRC since then. In addition to the formal meetings when official representatives exchange views and concerns and respond to questions raised by countries around the world, we also introduce our views and actions on human rights in China by holding a series of sideline meetings including those held by the China Society for Human Rights Studies. This is a brief introduction to human rights governance in a narrow sense.
 
In a broader sense, human rights governance includes several aspects in addition to the human rights system within the United Nations. First, some ideas China put forward to the international community, such as a community with a shared future for mankind, they are relevant to human rights. The proposal emphasizes lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, openness, tolerance, cleanliness, and beauty, which are all directly related to human rights. Within international mechanisms, including the human rights system, these ideas are translated into international languages so that they can be understood and accepted by all. At the same time, on the economic level, everyone may know we are carrying out cooperation with many countries along the Belt and Road and have made great efforts so far. Whether in terms of cooperation in infrastructure or other economic cooperation, our efforts in this domain will actually be conducive to human rights development in China and countries along the Belt and Road. 
 
Also, we have actively advanced international cooperation systems regarding the environment, climate change, labor and all fields of the economy, such as the Paris Agreement. Of course, we have joined many international organizations. Especially since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the advancements we have made in human rights in the field of public health is actually part of the broadly defined human rights governance. My own understanding may not necessarily be comprehensive. Mr. Lu and other speakers can correct me if there is something wrong with what I have said. I'm going to stop here, thank you. 
 
CNR:
 
We all know that respecting and safeguarding human rights is the consensus of human civilization, however, different countries have different views on human rights and the path of development often differs from country to country. How shall we see the notion in the white paper that China has added diversity to the concept of human rights? Thank you. 
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
I will answer this question, and other professors may give additional remarks. I think that China's progress in human rights, which is indeed different from that of Western or other countries, is a typical example. Regarding the need to understand China, I think we should focus on the following three aspects. First, China is the world's largest developing country, which is a basic national condition we often talk about. Second, China is the world's most populous country, which is also a national condition that has lasted for hundreds of years. Third, China is the world's fastest developing country. Its speed of development since the 1970s is unprecedented. The journalists here, who were generally born after the 1980s and 1990s, have also experienced a huge change. China after 1970 is totally different from that before 1970, its development is the progress of civilization and quite representative. 
 
Looking at this progress of civilization from the human rights perspective, I think the following three aspects in particular are worth thinking about. 
 
First, China's human rights development has exceeded Western liberal views on human rights and the development of their practice. The progress was made under the guidance of China's people-centered approach to human rights. In my opinion, the approach has transcended the narrowness and limitations of the Western capitalist view of human rights, focusing on people-centered human rights rather than men's natural rights, socialist collective human rights rather than liberal individual human rights, and specific and vivid human rights rather than abstract, empty human rights. So, it is a particularly representative model of human rights and the new manifestation of human rights civilization. 
 
Second, China has developed the Marxist theory of human rights. Upholding the basic positions and views of the Marxist theory of human rights, the CPC is grounding its efforts in the new century, new development stage, new era, China's development features of the times and the future development trend. China attaches great importance to the position of the people, authenticity, development, specificity and the comprehensiveness of human rights, which is the great progress and development of the Marxist theory of human rights under the new historical conditions. We can also call it the 21st-century Marxist human rights theory.
 
Third, we have opened new frontiers of human civilization. The CPC upholds historical materialism and dialectical materialism, and has always viewed and developed human rights from a historical perspective, development perspective and the standpoint of the people, which enabled the CPC to open a new path of human rights protection based on China's national conditions. The development path in fact exploded the myth that only the Western model could develop human rights, and has also opened up a new path for the development of human rights. My thinking is summarized in those three points for your reference. 
 
Phoenix TV:
 
Some Western countries have been making a lot of fuss about China's human rights issues for years, especially smearing China on issues related to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. As the ruling party, how does the CPC view this issue? Thank you. 
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
Indeed, China is a socialist country under the leadership of the CPC where people became masters of the country. As China is different from Western countries in the value orientation of human rights, Western countries believe that human rights in China are not up to their standards. So, any progress of China's human rights may not draw their attention. Regarding this issue, spokespersons of the Foreign Ministry have made several systematic, comprehensive and clear statements, so I will not elaborate on some specific issues. Here I would like to stress the following points: 
 
First, in my opinion, Western countries are not really concerned about China's human rights, they just use it to interfere in China's internal affairs. If they are really concerned about China's human rights, especially human rights in Xinjiang, I am wondering why they did not speak up and condemn the activities of extremists when Xinjiang suffered terrorism and extremism. They did not condemn the acts of mutilation of human beings. In contrast, as we know, some violent terrorist organizations in Xinjiang were supported and sheltered by some Western forces. We believe that this is entirely the result of double standards on human rights. If they really care for human rights in China, why didn't they recognize China's progress and development of human rights, especially the great achievements in reducing poverty, which lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty? They become better off and are now heading towards a higher level of prosperity, which gave a great boost to people's rights to subsistence and development. We have also noticed that they never focused on these progress in their news reports. I am afraid that there is some prejudice and misunderstanding. More importantly, there are political purposes. Some Western countries, in particular, used the so-called double standards on human rights to smear China's human rights situation to defame China, tarnish its image in the world, achieve their political purposes, and contain China's rise and development.
 
Second, if some Western countries really care about human rights, they should not only look at China, but instead examine themselves. Just as our Foreign Ministry spokesperson put it, we urge these countries to take a look at themselves in the mirror and see what human rights are like in their own countries. In the face of their own increasingly prominent human rights problems, it is time for them to reflect, face up to their own issues and find solutions to address their problems. In the long run, these problems are detrimental to the improvement of human rights in these countries. Recently, I have been reading a book that some of you may be reading, too. It is a book written by an influential black American journalist with the New York Times. It is called "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents." If you are interested in it, you are recommended to buy it to read. The author made a thorough analysis of the serious racial problems in the U.S. I have read some books of this kind, but I don't think there have been any with a more thorough analysis than in this book. Why? The author believes that the racial problems in the U.S. relate to neither racialism, racial discrimination nor racist policies. What's the problem? It's all about the caste system according to the author. We know what the caste system is. It is obviously a racial problem far more serious than racialism and racist policies. In reading this book, I realized that its analysis of the most pressing human rights problems in the U.S. today enables us to view from a more profound perspective the origins, complexity, long-term existence and dangers of these problems, to which we should pay attention with an alert mind. We should not simply listen to what they say, but pay attention to their actions. Thank you.
 
China Daily:
 
Could you share what major efforts the judicial organs have made in protecting human rights? Thank you.
 
Li Xiao:
 
Thanks for your question. As a bottom line for defending fairness and justice, the administration of justice indeed plays an important role in protecting human rights. After working in the court system for 37 years, I am well aware that respect for and protection of human rights is one of the main lines that run through the work of the people's courts. With the aim that the people can see in every judicial case that justice is served, judicial bodies adhere to carrying out justice for the people, seeking judicial justice, and protecting the lawful rights and interests of the interested parties according to law so as to increase the people's sense of gain, happiness and security. I'd like to share with you some highlights of our efforts in the following keywords, namely, judicial reform, judicial accountability, the case-filing register system, the safeguarding of the right to defense, judicial openness, guaranteeing the right to fair trial, and judicial relief. As you know, judicial bodies have been carrying out judicial reform in recent years. Why? Its ultimate goals are to ensure the people's courts independently and fairly exercise judicial power according to the law; improve the allocation of judicial powers and responsibilities; and improve category-based management of judicial personnel and job security for the judicial profession. People's courts across administrative boundaries have been established. In some provinces and cities, there are also courts that handle intellectual property and financial cases as well as online courts. This is a brief summary of judicial reform.
 
Regarding fully implementing judicial accountability, we have improved the list of well-defined adjudicative powers and responsibilities, strictly held illegal adjudication accountable, and fully implemented the three regulations on preventing intervention in judicial activities, by which the judges hear the cases to reach verdicts and bear related responsibilities.
 
Regarding the case-filing register system, it is a replacement for the former case-filing review system and was established in 2015. It ensures litigants' right of action and has solved the difficulties in filing lawsuits, with an on-the-spot case-filing registration rate of more than 95%. As you know, science and technology have made rapid progress in recent years, which has accelerated the establishment of smart courts. Now filing is much easier. A click on WeChat Court, a mini program of WeChat, enables litigants to file cases online, submit evidence, and attend trials as well as deal with some cross-region litigations, making litigation services available online round the clock.
 
Another noteworthy highlight is the promotion of judicial openness. We have improved judicial transparency by establishing four platforms for releasing information on judicial processes, trial livestreams, written judgments, and the execution of judgments. I checked these platforms this morning. A total of more than 13 million trials nationwide have been livestreamed on the platform for trial livestreams, with 38 billion visits in total. There are more than 100 million written judgements at the platform for written judgements, with over 64.6 billion visits by this morning. The data keeps updated and changing all the time.
 
With regards to the guaranteeing of the right to defense, pilot work has been launched to ensure legal defense is provided in all criminal cases. Legal aid stations can now be found at all courts and detention houses to ensure that defendants in all criminal cases can obtain legal defense and support in trial. The state protects defense lawyers' rights to meet their clients, to read case files, to investigate and obtain evidence, to conduct cross-examination, and to debate and defend, and other litigious rights.
 
Regarding the guaranteeing of the right to fair trial, we have made significant efforts. For example, we have promoted the reform of the criminal litigation system with a focus on adjudication, strictly enforced the principles of "no penalty without a law", presumption of innocence, evidence-based verdicts, and exclusionary rules, and strengthened the role of court trials, ensuring that no one should be prosecuted without criminal evidence and those guilty of an offence are subject to fair punishment. From 2016 to 2020, people's courts at all levels acquitted 5,479 defendants. A number of wrongful verdicts including those concerning Hugjiltu for rape and murder and Nie Shubin for rape and murder were overturned in accordance with the law. The wrongly-convicted all received state compensation in accordance with the law.
 
Another keyword is judicial relief. It covers the state compensation system and the state judicial assistance system. We have improved the state compensational system and developed compensation alongside the economic and social development of the country. The daily compensation for violation of a citizen's personal liberty has risen from 17.16 yuan in 1995 to 373.10 yuan in 2021. China has improved the state judicial assistance system to safeguard victims' right to judicial assistance. In 2020, courts at all levels handled a total of 37,852 judicial assistance cases, helping 44,350 people with 910 million yuan of judicial relief. In addition, we have made many other efforts. As time is limited, I am not going to elaborate on them. Thank you.
 
HKTKWW:
 
My question is for Mr. He. You've mentioned before that we need to pay great attention to the spatial and temporal dimensions of historical development and social environment during human rights research and analysis. How shall we understand this concept? How shall we think about the internationalization of human rights on the premise of a community with a shared future for mankind? Thank you.
 
He Zhipeng:
 
Thanks for your question. First of all, I have to admit this idea is just a point of view I personally raised during my academic research after discussing it with my colleagues and students. Here is the reason behind the idea. When having dialogues on human rights internationally or having exchanges on human rights domestically, some people believe that there is a common and universal standard for human rights. That means that every country, wherever it is located and whatever historical period it is in, should act in accordance with the same rule or standard. During the illegal "Occupy Central" movement, some people cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We later commented that some rules are not applicable in China, because not all rules apply to all countries.
 
On this basis, I would like to put forward an idea. The real situation of human rights in a country depends on what historical position and period it is in. The so-called space-time condition, on the one hand, is "time", that is to say, in this sense we should understand that what are considered human rights change with the development of the times. They are not static. If we can see from the overall historical trend that human rights are constantly improving, we can also see from a certain historical section, for example, in the event of an epidemic, the situation of human rights protection may fluctuate. This is the so-called historical dimension. We cannot simply hold fast to the conclusion that human rights have just come and gone.
 
The other one is the spatial dimension, that is, different cultural traditions and national customs lead to different actualizations of human rights. As we all know, China has a system of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities, which is actually a different way of safeguarding the rights of different cultural traditions. If you accept my basic understanding, what conclusion do we reach? I think there are two aspects.
 
First, the level of human rights protection should be decoupled from the political dynamics. There was a question just now saying that some countries say that there are problems in China's human rights. In fact, they are making a fuss out of nothing and fabricating rumors to stir up trouble. As Professor Lu said just now, the objective is very simple. It is to achieve political containment. That is to say, China's rapid, balanced and stable economic, political and cultural development has deeply worried many countries. You may all have heard of a concept called "Thucydides Trap". They believe that major Western powers and China are destined for conflict. If they don't contain China now, then they won't have a chance in the future. This, in my opinion, is the first decoupling, which is to decouple human rights issues from political struggles.
 
Second, human rights should be decoupled from economic competition. Some countries have raised the so-called "cotton issue" in Xinjiang as a human rights issue and then used it to curb China's development. In fact, anyone with a clear vision knows that their objective behind the issue is very simple. From their point of view, China is developing too fast economically and we have competitive advantages in many aspects. Anyone who has studied economics knows that the basic operating rule of international competition is acquiring absolute advantage or comparative advantage. We have an advantage in this respect and they feel they are no match for us. What can they do? They began to use various human rights excuses to suppress China, which in my opinion should be kept in mind after understanding the spatial and temporal scale of human rights.
 
What does the building of a community with a shared future for mankind mean in terms of human rights? To put it simply, it means that human society faces more and more common risks and has many areas of common concerns. For example, a global panic is likely caused by climate change, global warming, epidemics, and the internet. Under such a premise, we should recognize the possible risks, actively cooperate globally, work for a common future, and promote human rights in the dimension of governance cooperation. That is my understanding. Thank you.
 
CRI:
 
What effective measures has the CPC explored to respect and protect human rights in the pursuit of people's freedom, equality and happiness? What are the similarities and differences compared with other countries, especially in guaranteeing equal rights for special groups? Thank you.
 
Zhang Wanhong:
 
Thank you for your questions and for your focus on the situation of specific groups after others focused on the larger issues. With the liberation and happiness of the people as its mission, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has, over the past 100 years, continuously explored ways to realize the state system of freedom and equality for the people, and gradually established the basic system of overall law-based governance. The CPC abides by historical materialism and recognizes and exalts the historical subjectivity of human beings. First of all, the equality we seek in the practice of respecting and safeguarding human rights is not the abstract equality of all men, or the so-called equality of natural rights. Our pursuit of equality is in the specific practice of history, in the specific time and space, with the sustainable development of the economy and the overall prosperity of the people as the material basis, with national independence and social harmony and stability as the institutional basis, and with the individual's feasible ability and substantive right of choice as the content of equality.
 
As for specific groups, in the process of realizing the equal protection of the rights of specific groups, we should emphasize the concrete practice of history, that is, the importance of their basic needs, such as clothing, food, housing and transportation, should be recognized by the system. For example, as a part-time vice chairman of the Hubei Disabled Persons' Federation, I pay close attention to the issue of people with disabilities. More than 80 million of them have been lifted out of poverty. Another example is the issue of gender equality. As a basic state policy, the CPC attaches great importance to protecting women's freedom of marriage, and established the no-fault divorce system very early. We have also carried forward the fine tradition of respecting the elderly and actively responded to population ageing. This is the first aspect.
 
Second, in the system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics, the logic of rights has unique advantages in balancing the rights of individuals and communities, ensuring equal rights for specific groups, promoting overall personal development and integrated social development, and achieving common prosperity for the people. Understanding this point will help us adhere to the perspective of well-rounded human development. We advocate the equal right to participation, and the comprehensive and coordinated development of specific groups such as the disabled, women, and the elderly. It shows great awareness of the diversity of human nature and the equality of human dignity in socialist humanism, and the recognition and guarantee of the substantive equality of specific groups in the socialist political and legal systems.
 
Altogether, the theme of today's white paper is the substantial progress made in human rights by the Chinese people under the CPC's leadership. From the New Democratic Revolution and the socialist revolution to the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and comprehensive modernization, it is the people who have always been the centrality of enjoying and fulfilling all the human rights. So, we have come to an important conclusion that people's well-being is the greatest human right. The conclusion solves the questions: Who does the progress of human rights depend on, and who is it for? Everyone, regardless of physical or mental disabilities, gender, age, or other factors, can develop oneself with dignity, contribute to society, share the opportunity to shine in life, and make their dream come true. Thank you.
 
Shangyou News:
 
I would like to ask Mr. Li this question. With the continuous overall deepening of judicial reforms, China's judicial transparency is constantly upgrading, and its judicial human rights protection system is gradually improving. In recent years, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) has done a lot of work on the applicable standards of the death penalty. Can you give us some details on this? Thank you.
 
Li Xiao:
 
This is a very informed question, thank you. First of all, as for the applicable standards of the death penalty, let's take a look at how to control the application of the death penalty through legislation. As we all know, the application of the death penalty is a consistent criminal policy that China retains, strictly controls, and prudently applies. Paragraph 1 of Article 48 of the Criminal Law stipulates that the death penalty shall only be applied to criminals who have committed extremely serious crimes, while Article 49 states that the death penalty shall not be imposed on persons who have not reached the age of 18 at the time the crime is committed or on women who are pregnant at the time of trial, and that the death penalty shall not be given to a person who is 75 years old at the time of trial unless they have caused the death of another person by especially cruel means. In other words, there are three statutory conditions for restricting the death penalty.
 
In 2011, 13 crimes applicable for the death penalty were removed as part of the eighth amendment to the Criminal Law. In 2015, nine more crimes were removed in the ninth amendment. It shows that China has tightly limited the use of the death penalty through legislation. Over the years, massive efforts have been made to reform the judicial system, mainly in the following aspects: 
 
First, by taking further steps to strictly control the death penalty and employ it with prudence. It is widely known that since the SPC invoked the right to approve all death sentences on Jan. 1, 2007, courts at various levels have firmly upheld the concept of attaching equal importance to punishing crimes and protecting human rights. More attention has been paid to the penalty policy of tempering severity with mercy, and the death penalty is strictly controlled and prudently applied. This requires increased care when handling cases, increased caution when prescribing death sentences, and enhanced fairness in trial procedures. In the process of death penalty review, the SPC employs the highest standards and strictest requirements to check on the facts and evidence, laws and policies, and trial procedures of each case, making sure that the death penalty is only administered for convicted criminals in extremely severe offenses.
 
Second, by continuously adopting judicial interpretations and normative documents over the years to detail the application of laws and policies and tighten the procedures of case handling. The SPC, acting alone or together with other departments, has issued documents including Some Advice on Implementing the Criminal Policy of Combining Leniency with Rigidity, Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Examination and Judgment of Evidence in Death Sentence Cases, and Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Exclusion of Illegal Evidence in Criminal Cases. This year, we issued a long judicial interpretation regarding the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Law, in which special chapters and sections have been established to make comprehensive revisions and regulations on the death penalty. These documents have played an active and important role in guiding the lower courts to try death penalty cases in a fair manner, and further tightening and unifying legal and policy standards, rules of evidence, and trial procedures applicable to the death penalty.
 
Third, by strengthening human rights protection during death penalty review and ensuring defendants' right to defense and other legitimate rights. In August 2019, the SPC issued the Provisions on the Review and Execution Procedures for the Death Penalty to Protect Convicts' Lawful Rights and Interests. It stipulates that defendants have the right to be represented by a lawyer when the SPC is reviewing their death sentences and that convicts have the right to meet relatives before the execution of the death sentences, providing a strong guarantee for the rights of the accused in death penalty cases.
 
Fourth, by formulating criminal justice concepts that meet the requirements of the new era and unceasingly increasing the level of criminal justice. In 2019, the seventh conference on works related to criminal trials asked courts at various levels to strictly observe China's policy of retaining, strictly controlling, and prudently applying the death penalty. Efforts were also required to be made to ensure that the death penalty is only administered for a very small number of convicted criminals who have been found guilty of extremely severe offenses and have caused great harm to society, and that the death penalty is given with sufficient evidence according to law. The people's courts will resolutely implement the policy and ensure all death sentences are employed with ironclad evidence. Thank you.
 
Beijing Review:
 
Based on China's conditions, the CPC creatively put forward that the rights to subsistence and development are primary and basic human rights. In this regard, China has indeed achieved enormous progress. But in other areas of human rights, are there any prominent achievements that we can tell the world? Could you illustrate with some specific examples? Thank you.
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
This is an overall question on human rights, which is not only about the rights to subsistence and development. In accordance with the principle of universality, human rights also incorporate economic, social, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights. In recent years, environmental rights and the right to peace have also arisen. Actually, the progress of human rights in China is not a single item that comprises the rights to subsistence and development but a comprehensive and integrated advancement. Great progress has been achieved in the judicial system, as Judge Li just mentioned, especially in the strict control of the death penalty and employing it with prudence. It is basically identical to international standards from a human rights perspective. I will not expand on this, as Judge Li has already spoken about it at length. We can observe that the progress of human rights protection is remarkable in the process of judicial system reform, ranging from strictly implementing the legal principles of no punishment without law and presumption of innocence to protecting the legitimate rights of criminal suspects and prohibiting extortion of confessions by torture. I think the progress made in this area is obvious.
 
In addition, the protection of civil rights has improved in various aspects, including the basic rights and personal rights of citizens. As for political rights, civic engagement is increasing, and the right to participate in state and autonomous affairs are better protected. There are plenty of specific examples in this regard.
 
Next, I'd like to invite Dean He to make some additional remarks.
 
He Zhipeng:
 
Let me just say a few words about the question. I think the reason why China particularly emphasized the rights to subsistence and development in the 1990s is because China faced a lot of pressure in terms of survival for a long time, as well as many bottlenecks in terms of its economic, social, cultural and individual development. The rights to subsistence and development can be understood as a "bunch of rights," which means that there are many concrete rights under these rights.
 
I would like to add a few more words to what Professor Lu was saying. Under the leadership of the CPC, China has gradually explored the development of human rights in a gradual manner. We all know that China put forward the goal of achieving moderate prosperity in all respects. In fact, the idea of building a moderately prosperous society reflects the implications of human rights. We studied this problem some time ago. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the economic standard of per capita GDP was regarded as the sole measure of a well-off life. At the beginning of the 21st century, around the 16th CPC National Congress, China achieved its goal of a "well-off" standard of living, referring to the GDP growth target that we previously mentioned. However, can we say that China successfully achieved its goal? The answer is no. The report of the 16th CPC National Congress pointed out that, the well-off life we were leading was inadequate; and the goals of the well-off life were not only to meet people's basic needs, but also to achieve demands for democracy, the rule of law, a better environment and educational opportunities. Therefore, we found that the scope of human rights was gradually expanded under a comprehensive understanding of a well-off life.
 
We all have some personal experiences when we talk about building a moderately prosperous society in all respects from a perspective of human rights. We have witnessed an all-round improvement in China's economic, political and cultural life, including improvements to our living environment, educational opportunities, employment, and people's rights to know and participate in all fields of society. As the chairperson just mentioned, China is in a new period in which the timeframes of the Two Centenary Goals are converging. China's human rights situation is not perfect yet. We look forward to reviewing and summarizing at this stage, and doing better in the future. Thank you. That is all from me. Thank you, Mr. Lu.
 
Zhang Wanhong:
 
I would like to add something. I noticed that the reporter from Beijing Review wanted to hear some vivid examples. I come from Wuhan and would like to talk about the efforts and achievements that the Party and the government made in fighting the epidemic based on Wuhan's experience. Last year, China faced two major battles: poverty alleviation and epidemic prevention and control. As a resident of Wuhan, your question reminds me of the days and nights when China's top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan visited Wuhan and the city was under lockdown. At the commendation meeting on the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, General Secretary Xi Jinping summarized by saying that China's great spirit of combating the epidemic could be characterized by putting people's lives first, nationwide solidarity, sacrifice, respecting science, and a sense of mission for humanity. However, from the perspective of human rights, I would like to tell the story of combating the COVID-19 epidemic from my own experience. For example, on the basis of protecting people's lives and health, we ensured that people fully enjoyed their economic, social and cultural rights, fulfilled the right to participate equally, and promoted social integration and well-rounded personal development. A pandemic of such magnitude represents a litmus test in terms of human rights. In terms of protecting people's rights to education and employment, we initiated a policy of "suspending classes without stopping learning" and boosted the resumption of work, production and business activities. During the epidemic, schools and teachers worked together to overcome the software and hardware limitations. Meanwhile, all sectors of society, including network operators, network course platforms, and platforms for journals, books and data, also made contributions. In the early period of lifting the lockdown and resuming work in Wuhan, many enterprises introduced measures to solve the worries of their employees, such as sending vehicles to pick up their employees and arranging accommodation and food for employees and their families. These are examples with rich human rights implications.
 
In terms of protecting people's cultural rights, major online platforms provided free online services including movies, TV dramas and online books. Various non-governmental organizations carried out online cultural activities in communities to increase public cohesion and spread positive energy. In terms of protecting people's marriage and family rights, the government attached great importance to solving marriage and family disputes during the epidemic. Joining hands with charity organizations, women's federations in Hubei helped mediate and defuse family disputes during the epidemic. China attaches great importance to ensuring equal participation rights and barrier-free information access for specific groups. Barrier-free measures were adopted, such as by providing sign language interpretation at press conferences. Meanwhile, My volunteer team and I provided barrier-free communication services for hearing-impaired people and medical personnel of Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital. We also launched epidemic prevention videos in sign language. From these examples, we can see the concrete details of human rights rather than abstract concepts of the rights to subsistence and development. In short, the CPC has made comprehensive progress over the past century in human rights. This is my answer for your question by using stories and experiences.
 
The Poster News APP:
 
Some experts believe that when constructing a national human rights discourse system, we should be wary of taking Western experience as a universal human rights standard and avoid "self-Easternization" in human rights discourse. How should we build a Chinese human rights discourse system that is both national and universal? Thank you.
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
This topic is indeed a topic that everyone is thinking about. Let me try to introduce it first. When talking about human rights, what we emphasize is the upholding of the principle of universality of human rights. At the same time, what we are opposed to is a universal view of human rights. The principle of universality and the universal view of human rights are two different concepts in our understanding. The universality view of human rights is to realize human rights by following the basic principles of human rights recognized by the United Nations documents or by everyone. The universal view of human rights was put forward by some people in the West during the Bourgeois Revolution, which means that human rights are determined according to their ideological logic, and that actually the standard definition of human rights is of uniqueness. Because we know that "the universal view" itself is a concept of Christianity. After expanding the view of natural human rights to include social and political life, it has become the only human rights standard in social and political life. We think this is inappropriate and unrealistic because different countries have different national conditions, different cultural backgrounds, different historical traditions, different social systems, and different national systems. Under such circumstances, using a single human rights standard to measure more than 200 countries and regions in the world is obviously not in line with actual situations. We have always held a negative attitude towards this; that is, we believe that there is no universal human rights standard in the world.
 
We mainly adhere to three principles in the development of human rights . First, we adhere to the principle of universality of human rights. We have signed and ratified several human rights conventions and comply with the universality requirements of international human rights. Second, we have to proceed from China's actual conditions and national conditions. This cannot simply be copied. Otherwise, copying will not solve the problem, and it will cause major problems instead. China is the biggest developing country with the largest population and fastest growth -- these are the realities that will affect the fundamental basis of China's development of human rights. Third, we oppose "human rights preachers" who use human rights to start a confrontation, or those who play the human rights card, use human rights as a big stick, and beat others if they don't meet their standards. We think this is unacceptable.
 
Regarding the connection of human rights discourse, how can China's human rights discourse be connected with the world's human rights discourse, maintaining both nationality and globality? This is indeed a question that scholars and experts should think carefully. We are also exploring this aspect. I think several points are important.
 
First, it must be characterized by the times. It is impossible to go back to the past when human rights discourse is raised in this era. Mr. He just said that every era has its own human rights. I said that every era has its own human rights discourse. Taking today's discourse back to the 17th and 18th centuries, during Europe's revolutionary years, I'm afraid it obviously would not work and it won't work to use human rights discourse from that era. This is called the evolution of history, the progress of history, and it also reflects the specificity of human rights.
 
Second, the principle of universality of human rights. Talking about human rights discourse must conform to the principle of the universality of human rights, and it must not be mentioned indiscriminately, otherwise it will not be easy to accept and does not conform to the universality of human rights. We must also pay attention to this aspect.
 
Third, we need to make some development and improvement on the basis of Chinese culture. Our culture has its own advantages and characteristics, which is also the root of our nation. We need to provide China's values and human rights views to the world and we must have a national characteristic because ethnic nationalities constitute the world. Of course this is a process. I mean that China has to build its own human rights discourse and that the process will take a long time. It will involve the use of both soft and hard power. It will mainly depend on the development and strength of the country. To build a powerful modern socialist country, it must have a strong material basis, and it must also include the development and progress of political civilization, spiritual civilization, and legal civilization, among other aspects. Only when these are integrated together can we truly improve cultural soft power, including human rights culture. Thank you.
 
China Women's News:
 
For a long time, the issue of how to protect the educational rights of migrant and left-behind children has received widespread attention. As the ruling party, how can the CPC ensure that these individuals can enjoy basic rights in life? Thank you.
 
Zhang Wanhong:
 
This question can be answered on several levels. First, we will adhere to the concept of equal protection. At the beginning of the 2000s, our Party and the State determined a basic strategy whereby local governments should be responsible for the migrant children in their jurisdiction and that full-time public primary and secondary schools should be mainly responsible for hosting migrant children to ensure the rights of migrant children to receive compulsory education. Secondly, I think it is necessary to give full play to the protection granted by the rule of law. In fact, we actually did that: in addition to laws such as the Compulsory Education Law and the Law on the Protection of Minors, the State Council, the Ministry of Education and other departments have issued various normative documents related to the balanced development of compulsory education, the improvement of the urban and rural compulsory education funding guarantee mechanism, and the resolution of issues such as enrollment of migrant workers' children to provide systematic and legal guarantees for the basic education rights of left-behind children and migrant children. For example, the city of Wuhan, where I live, arranged to admit children of migrant workers in urban areas to public schools in accordance with the principle of relative proximity, which means they can go to schools near where they live. In 2010, Wuhan waived fees for the compulsory education of migrant students. Finally, we have another institutional advantage, which is the joint effort of multiple departments to protect the rights to education of left-behind children and migrant children. First, General Secretary Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and other national leaders have repeatedly issued instructions on the issue of left-behind children. Premier Li Keqiang stressed that "it is necessary to strengthen the main responsibility of family guardianship in accordance with the law, and implement the safety management, supervision, education, and other responsibilities of the grassroots government, village committees, and schools." Second, we have institutional cooperation. The Ministry of Civil Affairs takes the lead, while the relevant departments of education, public security, and justice coordinate and cooperate with each other. At the same time, we give full play to the forces of the All-China Women's Federation, the Communist Youth League, and other organizations. Third, we have support from society. Various media outlets and public opinion channels publish opinions and provide measures and suggestions. By seeing the big picture from a small angle, we can see the advantages of our system in solving this problem. With the Party's leadership, government guidance, social participation, and multilateral interactions, we can solve the problem of protecting the rights of specific groups one after another. Thank you.
 
Red Star News:
 
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. My question is, in terms of protecting the people's rights to know, participate, express, and supervise in society, what concepts does the CPC want to share? What can the world learn from China's experience in human rights protection? Thank you.
 
He Zhipeng:
 
The rights you mentioned just now are generally considered particularly important aspects of civil rights, such as knowing, participating, expressing, and supervising. In terms of concepts, what I personally understand are:
 
First, the concept of rule of law. As everyone knows, we have progressively promoted law-based governance in a bid to build a country of socialist rule of law. Now, we have rolled out the outline for developing the rule of law in China. Ensuring people's rights to know, to be involved, to express views, and to supervise the exercising of power in a legal manner is probably the most stable method. History tells us that these rights can only be well protected by establishing a sound legal system. China's Constitution has relevant provisions in those regards. As such, the State Council in 2007 launched the regulation of government information disclosure to ensure people's right to know. The rights to be involved, to express views and to supervise the exercising of power have been realized through the working processes of the National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). All these actions are based on the rule of law. That's my interpretation of the first concept.
 
Second, the concept of gradualism, that is to say, things are not accomplished in a single stroke. As we discussed before, human rights are developing. If the development of human rights is not compatible with the economic, social and cultural development level of a particular time, it will hinder the development of human rights and society, or even subvert the whole society, just like with the one-sided human rights campaigns in some Middle Eastern countries. Therefore, over the last few decades, we have progressively developed the legal framework and law-based governance, continuously enriching relevant contents. This is an important principle which deserves to be promoted and shared with the rest of the world.
 
Third, as the saying goes, "actions speak louder than words." We often talk about grassroots democracy, which is decided by concrete actions rather than what is said or preached. In other words, every organization at the grassroots level, including the law school of Jinlin University where I work, is actively promoting democracy by various means, such as establishing various committees, through which people can express their opinions and participate in the decision-making process. As we all know, the rights to know, to be involved, to express views, and to supervise the exercising of power at different levels from grassroots institutions to the NPC and CPPCC have been constantly improved. This is a result of practices. When people get information online, many of them ask the government to disclose relevant information. This progress in the awareness of rights has been brought about by actual practice. We have raised the public awareness of human rights and improved the social atmosphere through actual practices. That is my preliminary understanding.
 
Lu Guangjin:
 
In fact, you have raised two questions. Mr. He has answered the question regarding concrete actions. Now, I will answer the question regarding the abstract issues. Under the leadership of the CPC, we have created a miracle in the global human rights cause over the past century. What made China's success possible? What can we learn from history? Since we might hold different perspectives, I will talk about my understanding.
 
First, China applies the universal principles of human rights in light of the national context. This is the most valuable experience we can learn from history. We should apply the universal principles of human rights, which means we cannot deny human rights, nor deny that it is a product of human civilization and social development. Therefore, we should explore a path of human rights development that suits China's national reality. Under this principle, we have joined many international treaties on human rights and combined the spirits of these treaties with our national conditions, exploring the correct path for China's development of human rights. For example, we have successfully applied such international concepts as the rights to subsistence, development, life, health, peace, the environment and many others into China's practices.
 
Second, we have persisted in promoting human rights through development. This is the "secret" behind China's successes in human rights. The white paper has also adopted the word "secret." As Mr. He said, it is a progressive process. How can this process be realized? Development has to be utilized as the driving force. I mentioned several "mosts" at the beginning. As the world's most populous country, what should we do? We have to solve the subsistence issues for 1.4 billion people, allowing them access to adequate food and clothing. Development is the only solution. Driven by development, other social programs will make progress as well. Advancements in other social programs will strengthen the protection of human rights. We believe this is China's most successful experience, however, some Western countries don't understand and often make improper comments.
 
Third, from my personal point of view, we should take a people-centered approach to human rights and promote the all-round development of people. This is also a precious experience accumulated from our Party's practices on human rights protection. In 2018, General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He specifies that China adheres to a people-centered vision of human rights and, on that basis, puts forward that living a happy life is the primary human right. Over the years, General Secretary Xi Jinping has also stressed to "promote the all-round development of people" and "build a community with a shared future for humanity." Therefore, I believe that the development of China's human rights cause has followed four pieces of logic. First, the rights to subsistence and development are both primary and fundamental human rights. Second, living a life of contentment is the ultimate human right. Third, we strive to promote the well-rounded development of human rights in China. Fourth, we aim to build a community with a shared future for humanity.
 
The last point I want to make is about China's experience on its human rights development. I believe that China's most fundamental experience and its systematic advantage lie in upholding CPC leadership and the socialist system in promoting human rights. China is the world's largest socialist country. Under the leadership of the CPC, China has leveraged the strength of its socialist system to promote and protect human rights. After years of exploration, we have found the internal logic on this issue and certain laws, as well as things that will benefit our future development. This includes upholding CPC leadership, adhering to the socialist system, resolutely respecting and protecting human rights, and promoting coordinated development. In the meantime, I also believe that developing, respecting, and protecting human rights, or pursuing human rights protection on a higher-level, is conducive to the Party's leadership and the development of our socialist system. To fully leverage these strengths is the reason behind the progress of China's human rights cause. Thank you.
 
Shou Xiaoli:
 
The CPC's respect for and protection of human rights has attracted wide attention. Thank you very much for the participation of all the experts and friends from the media. Today's briefing is hereby concluded. Goodbye.
 
Translated and edited by Wang Yiming, Wang Wei, Yang Xi, Li Huiru, Duan Yaying, Yuan Fang, Xiang Bin, Liu Qiang, Zheng Chengqiong, Chen Xia, Dong Qingpei, Fan Junmei, Zhang Rui, He Shan, Qin Qi, Huang Shan, Zhu Bochen, Wang Qian, David Ball, Jay Birbeck, and Tom Arnstein. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.
 
Chinese Dictionary:

@cn_humanrights

For the latest news and analysis from our

reporters and editors:Staff Twitter List>>

E-mail:chinahrs@public.bta.net.cn