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The Chinese Expression of the Right to Subsistence: The Progressive Disclosure of the Dual Dimensions
March 13,2022   By:CSHRS
The Chinese Expression of the Right to Subsistence: The Progressive Disclosure of the Dual Dimensions
 
WEI Xiaoxu*
 
Abstract: Dedicated to the independence and prosperity of the country and the happiness of the people, the Communist Party of China has continuously enriched and developed the human rights system with Chinese characteristics during a century of arduous efforts. The right to subsistence, as the primary basic human right, is expressed from dual dimensions: the international dimension and the domestic dimension. However, the current Chinese human rights discourse hasn’t paid enough attention to the international dimension of the right to subsistence, and its content at the domestic dimension needs further clarification. This not only makes it difficult to provide a sound theoretical basis and development direction for the practices of the right to subsistence but also directly affects the integrity of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics, which is not conducive to using our human rights discourse to disseminate China’s achievements and gain international recognition. Therefore, it is vital to further improve the theory construction of the dual dimensions of the right to subsistence in the human rights system with Chinese characteristics. With the country as the main form and carrier, the international dimension of the right to subsistence originates from the people’s demands emerging from the domestic level and ending at the international level. It aims to be able to stand in the international community with dignity and possess good conditions and environments at home and abroad for the people to exercise and protect their rights.The domestic dimension of the right to subsistence centers on each individual, takes development as the measurement of human rights, and looks at the initial stage of the development axis. The progress from the domestic dimension of the right to subsistence to the right to development is achieved by satisfying the underlying needs for people’s subsistence. This also reflects the progressive deepening of emerging from the inside, responding from the outside, and then moving from the outside to the inside.
 
Keywords: right to subsistence· Human Rights System with Chinese Characteristics · international dimension and domestic dimension· right to development
 
In its great practice of revolution, construction, and reform, China has received increasing attention and affirmation for its international status, influence, and its human rights achievements. Nevertheless, the theoretical construction of China’s human rights still awaits further enhancement.1 As to the right to subsistence, on the one hand, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China has fully proved that the right to subsistence is the primary human right in its experience of century-old struggling for national independence and unity and realizing and safeguarding human rights2. It has been the most urgent demand of the Chinese people3 and it has played a pivotal role in constructing the Chinese human rights system.4 But despite China’s experience, the right to subsistence is still disputed as a human right in the international human rights discourse and is in urgent need of being better defined on the theoretical level. 
 
As the first white paper to comprehensively set out and expound on the concepts of the CPC on human rights and the human rights system with Chinese characteristics, the white paper of the Human Rights in China (1991) the right to subsistence is identified as the primary human right from which all others follow.5 The right to subsistence in the official Chinese discourse has two dimensions. The first is the domestic dimension of safeguarding people’s basic right to survival. The second dimension is the international dimension aimed at giving the nation a strong foothold in the international community to ensure a sound external development environment that can realize and safeguard people’s right to subsistence. The two dimensions are of equal importance and neither of them can be neglected. However, neither the authorities nor academic circles have attached as much attention to the international dimension as the domestic dimension. Even in the domestic dimension, the official expression of the white paper on human rights in China simply stresses in an abstract way the right to subsistence on the macroscopic level or points to the guarantee of the right to subsistence with concrete practice and data. Lacking systematic theoretical interpretation; the academic circles either focus on the right to life and include all kinds of rights needed for subsistence into the right to subsistence6 or regard the right to subsistence as part of the economic or social rights based on clarifying the distinction between the right to subsistence and the right to life.7 The domestic translation of the term “the right to subsistence” can reflect the differences more directly. The authorities and scholars once used the “right to subsistence,”8 “right to life,”9 “right to exist,”10 “right to existence,”11 “right to survive,”12 and “right to live”13 etc. In the international community, the right to subsistence is not incorporated into the widely accepted three generations of human rights.14 The international discourse also includes expressions degrading the right to subsistence to “eating their fill and wearing warm clothes to replace human rights” and “not having the attributes of right,” the “right to existence,”15 the “right to existence”16 that opposes colonization and pursues independence and the “right to subsistence”17 relating to economic security or guarantee for the social economy. However, these expressions do not fully reflect the purpose of the right to subsistence in the Chinese system of human rights. 
 
In general, the right to subsistence is disputed in terms of its attributes, content, and subjects and its relationship to other human rights. If the right to subsistence, as the primary basic human right in China’s view of human rights, lacks sufficient theoretical foundation and support, it will not provide the basis and guidance for China’s practice of the right to subsistence. It will also undermine the influence and integrity of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics. Besides, it will also prevent the CPC’s contribution to the human rights discourse and its achievements in promoting and safeguarding human rights in China from being recognized and thus hinder international identification with China. However, if the right to subsistence is analyzed separately, even though the conclusion is self-consistent, its fundamental importance and its significance in relation to other human rights cannot be fully appreciated. Therefore, it is necessary to review the international dimension of the right to subsistence and the links between human rights and sovereignty within the scope of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics and on the basis of China’s expression of the right to subsistence. This paper, therefore, reviews the domestic dimension of the right to subsistence and its positioning in the human rights system with Chinese characteristics and its connection with other human rights such as the right to development. at the paper presents a theory of China’s expression of the right to subsistence in the human rights system with Chinese characteristics based on China’s statements and actions on the right to subsistence for a long time, so as to clarify the basic concepts and comprehensively improve the theoretical framework for the right to subsistence, and realizing the positioning and demarcation of the right to subsistence to lay a solid foundation for future discussion of the specific system and the specific connotations of the right to subsistence.18
 
I. International Dimension: Neglected Cornerstone of Human Rights in China
 
As the Chinese saying goes, “under a toppled nest, can there be unbroken eggs”? The struggles of the CPC over the past 100 years have proved that there is an international dimension to the right to subsistence. In a toppled country, the people cannot fully realize their human rights. In such circumstances, the cause of human rights in China would be like a tree without roots.19 The discourse on human rights and related research has been asymmetric with regard to the two dimensions. Less attention has been given to the international dimension of the right to subsistence than the domestic dimension. Does less attention mean there is no need for systematic explanation? Besides, since the international dimension of the right to subsistence and the national sovereignty overlap, how to deal with their relations?
 
A. Reasons for Inadequate Attention
 
Generally speaking, the inadequate attention given to the international dimension of the right to subsistence mainly results from it being dismissed as irrelevant, meaning there is no willingness to engage in what is considered unnecessary research. 
 
First, in international relations and International Law, national survival and independence fall within the scope of national sovereignty and have had abundant discussion and practice. State sovereignty is the supreme internal power and indispensable for a country’s independence.The former indicates the supreme, unique national power over the country while the latter means equality, mutual independence, and security against external interference20. It is the foundation of the Charter of the United Nations, 21 the pivotal content of the rights and obligations of a country stipulated in International Law,22 and the most important fundamental principle and value in modern international relations and International Law.23 For this reason, when we talk about national survival and independence, we can refer to national sovereignty without repeated explanation. 
 
Second, the complicated relations between human rights and sovereignty “dilute” the “degree of human rights” in the international dimension of the right to subsistence to some extent. With the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations, the internationalization of human rights broke through the “sovereignty screen” and brought what were originally domestic affairs beyond a country’s borders.24 The relations between human rights and sovereignty accordingly became the focus of international relations and International Law.25 Nevertheless, a consensus has been reached on how to handle the different issues.26 Since national survival and independence are incorporated in the scope of national sovereignty in most cases, the scope of human rights may be conceptually “transboundary.”
 
Third, the international dimension of the right to subsistence is often regarded as being the background for human rights questions. The human rights of each individual should be finally realized and safeguarded27and are major human rights concerns.28 Compared with what ought to be the paradigm of the realistic status of individual rights and their relations, the international dimension of the right to subsistence is inevitably taken as the “background” of individual rights or the metatheory that is not solved by research on human rights. As long as the status of national survival and independence is established, there’s no need to reconsider this question to better realize and safeguard human rights in the future. In other words, the international dimension of the right to subsistence seems to be the “canvas” rather than the “content.”29
 
Strictly speaking, what lacks due attention is not issues such as national survival and independence but the interpretation of the right to subsistence with these issues as the starting point within the scope of human rights. 
 
B. Significance of Theoretical Construction
 
A response can be made to the above reflecting the rationality and necessity for the theoretical construction of the international dimension of the right to subsistence from historical, realistic, and theoretical perspectives. 
 
First, from the historical perspective. China has been persistently stressing openness, inclusiveness, seeking common points while shelving differences and that all countries can pursue different paths, theories, and practices of human rights taking into account their different historical, cultural, and social backgrounds.30 However, firmly upholding the deep-seated West-tropism and monism,31 Western countries and scholars always criticize China’s reasonable propositions.32 With the Western countries still taking precedence in the discourse on human rights, China cannot reasonably express its stance and viewpoints. It is necessary to base the construction of the Chinese human rights discourse system firmly on its historical development. Based on Hegel’s thought, Marx held the view that “human rights” were not inherent but generated during the historical evolution of societies.33 Different historical, cultural, and social processes will inevitably leave their marks on the thoughts of human rights of all countries.34 China has learned from its experience in modern times that only with national independence can the right to subsistence be realized and thus other human rights be promoted and safeguarded.35 It made the right to subsistence “the top priority of the Chinese people to solve the issues of human rights.”36 Meanwhile, cherishing the principles of “relying on China itself, learning from foreign countries, excavating history and following the contemporary trend,”37 we should bear in mind that the starting point of the historical logic of the inheritance and development of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics is the international dimension of the right to subsistence rather than the traditional Western concept of liberal human rights.
 
Second, from the realistic perspective. China is still exposed to numerous risks and challenges now38 and is still open to the factors affecting national reunification and stability. Concurrently, many countries or regions are still suffering from chaos caused by war, exhibiting the vital significance and value of the international dimension of the right to subsistence. Moreover, the international dimension of the right to subsistence should echo with the human rights system of African countries. Undergoing miserable experiences and struggles similar to those of China, African countries formulated the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in 1981, which stresses that every nation should enjoy the right to existence,39 and boasted abundant reasons for this concern.40 With continuously close China-African ties,41 advocating the international dimension of the right to subsistence can cement the consensus with African countries and thus win more recognition for the human rights system with Chinese characteristics on the international level. All these are effects that cannot be gained by just advocating national sovereignty. 
 
Third, from the theoretical perspective. The modernity of international relations and international law stresses state-orientation and taking the state as the starting point, the force bearing point, and the core factor.42 The state is a single atom-like actor43 and national sovereignty starts from and ends with the state and composes a state-centered curtain. As a result, it is unavoidably criticized should it aggravate national atomism and intensify the conflicts between human rights and sovereignty.44 However, the international dimension of the right to subsistence can encourage the linkage between sovereignty and human rights: Within the scope of human rights, the international dimension of the right to subsistence is not merely the foundation of other human rights but also manifests people’s dignity, value, and well-being together with other human rights. In this sense, national survival and independence is not simply related to the abstract “state” or simply to consolidate the state power, it also considers how to better realize and safeguard the human rights within the country. Accordingly, in pursuing “human rights for everyone,” human rights should be achieved under the shield of “sovereignty.” Therefore, efforts should be made to achieve a balance between individuals and the collective and prevent impediments for or even overturn the advancing ship of development.45 In the international dimension, the right to subsistence, like a “coordinator,” forms the double helix structure featuring interdependence and the mutual constraints of human rights and sovereignty. 
 
II. Explicit Connotations and Progressive Logic of the International Dimension
 
From the above, we can see that in constructing the Chinese human rights discourse system, the international dimension of the right to subsistence should be incorporated into the scope of human rights as the cornerstone of human rights in China. It does not simply repeat national sovereignty but also boasts unique connotations: “Human rights give top priority to the right to subsistence of the people”; the proposition of the right to subsistence and the background of struggling for it is “the loss of the national sovereignty and the havoc of people’s lives.”46 Therefore, the right to subsistence in the international dimension is a collective human right and contains the following elements. 
 
A. Subject of the right to subsistence
 
National sovereignty and the international dimension of the right to subsistence both boast internationality and externality. However, their greatest difference is that national sovereignty takes countries in political fiction as the subject and the international dimension of the right to subsistence belongs to all the people of the country. In contrast, as far as national sovereignty is concerned, a state is generally regarded as a single, atom-like actor in the activities of the international community. And domestic affairs, if involved, should be handled by the government exercising the sovereignty on behalf of the state from the top down. The international dimension of the right to subsistence starts from inside and extends outside: People’s rights should be guaranteed based on stability and security. This appeal often appears and grows in strength in domestic society rather than in the international community all of a sudden. However, the appeal inevitably has connections with the international community because the independence and unity of the country and the nation involved are essential contents of the international community and international relations. It is the top-down appeal of all the people of the country that starts from the country and is reflected in the country and beyond. It is the paradigm of human rights itself47 and the improvement of human rights for the traditional theories on sovereignty: The state not only maintains sovereignty for the benefits and ideas of traditional theories on international relations and political theories but also responds to people’s appeals for national survival and lays the foundation for practically safeguarding people’s specific rights.
 
Hence, the subjects of the right to subsistence in the international dimension should be all the people of the country. However, it is difficult to call together all the people and realize the advocacy of everyone. Just like the CPC leading the Chinese people to realize the independence and reunification of the nation and the state. After long-term struggles, the international dimension of the right to subsistence was realized on the national and international level under the leadership of CPC and its devotion to saving the nation from subjugation and ensuring its survival as well as serving the people. “All the people” here refer to the “nation.”48 Just as Engels pointed out, the people of a nation should have the right to decide their own fate.49 As for a “great nation,” any internal affairs would be impossible without independence.50 It was the task of “all the people” in colonies and semi-colonies to topple the oppression of alien races and implement democracy.51 It is similar to the relations between the “Chinese people” and the “Chinese nation.” In this respect, the right to subsistence does not mean that a single ethnic group of a country can seek separatism with this excuse as justification.52 Even though International Law has the stipulation on the right of peoples to self-determination, the exercise of the right should meet specific conditions and should not be abused or overturn the national stability and unity.53 The right of peoples to self-determination does not advocate splitting the nation apart, but is instead aimed at expediting the close ties and integration of all nations.54 It is not just the foundation of national independence for all international cooperation55 but also the basic norm of international relations and International Law.56
 
B. Content of the right to subsistence
 
History proves that even the parts of countries the have disintegrated that have local governance and regimes cannot guarantee the fulfillment of human rights.57 Therefore, international independence and unity and the international dimension of the right to subsistence are closely entwined. The former is also the key to mastering the content of the right of the latter. 
 
First, the state is the most important and effective carrier for people’s survival and development, the “form of the collective presentation of the whole civil society in an era” and the form for the people to realize their shared interests.58 It is also the form organized by some social classes to fight against their enemies and protect themselves.59 Second, a state should not be taken as the only form of pursuing and realizing the international dimension of the right to subsistence. That is because subsistence is an inherent human appeal linking the historical development of mankind in the past, present, and future; however, the state “whose economic growth based on private ownership separates the social classes” did not exist from the very beginning60 and will perish with the disappearance of social classes.61 If a state is taken as the only form, other forms of organization of the human society will be weakened. Finally, the international dimension of the right to subsistence requires dynamic and ever-growing understanding. It should not fossilize the status of a country or deny the national division, combination, and evolution conforming to historical and social laws, people’s will, and international law. 
 
Therefore, it should be clarified that in understanding the content of the right to subsistence in the international dimension, national independence and unity is the key for the people to pursue and realize the international dimension of the right to subsistence but is not the core target. The international dimension of the right to subsistence is not simply to found a country or stop at a country. In essence, it is aimed at people being able to live in the international community with dignity and without invasion or disturbance. It is aimed at ensuring there is a domestic and international environment that is conducive to better safeguarding the human rights of all people. In this sense, either the regime ignoring this essence and simply stressing power or a single ethnic group intending to split the country on the excuse of the right to subsistence deviates from the international dimension of the right to subsistence. For this reason, China always defines the international dimension of the right to subsistence. “National independence has safeguarded the Chinese people from the devastation of foreign invaders, and it should still guarantee the basic subsistence of the people on this basis.”62
 
Thus, we can have a better understanding of the relations between the international dimension of the right to subsistence and related concepts. The prerequisite to enjoying sovereignty is the fact that “the state has existed.” Nonetheless, it is hard to truly have sovereignty in the traditional sense in international law if colonized people are fighting against colonization and until the country becomes fully independent. Different from sovereignty, “national existence” is the fundamental purpose rather than the prerequisite for people pursuing liberation in particular regions to exercise the right of subsistence in the international dimension. Sovereignty cannot prove its rationality before its “birth.” Statehood with national sovereignty as the starting point is the objective pursued by the international dimension of the right to subsistence. From this perspective, the international dimension of the right to subsistence can win juridical support of the right of peoples to self-determination in international law and meanwhile restricts the possible abuse of this right. All these have surpassed the scope of the single concept of national sovereignty or the right of peoples to self-determination. 
 
C. Logic progressing from the international community to the homeland
 
As mentioned above, the international dimension of the right to subsistence starts from inside and extends outside. This appeal starts from the domestic society but finally needs to be solved by the international community as a whole. The international dimension of the right to subsistence is not just oriented to the state simulation in the political sense or aimed at the qualification for being a state conforming to particular conditions and winning the recognition of other countries.63 Fundamentally, the international dimension of the right to subsistence adheres to the “people-centered” core value and creates conditions to truly realize and safeguard all human rights. The international dimension is the starting point rather than the destination of the right to subsistence and blows the horn for further realizing the domestic dimension. 
 
The same as all the human rights, the people-centered right to subsistence shows respect for each specific person. Nevertheless, the realization of human rights is not a natural course but requires a conducive internal and external environment, material basis, mechanisms, and systems. A state is established because of people’s appeals for the right to subsistence and bears the responsibility for meeting people’s demands for subsistence.64 Similarly, we can make clear the progressive logic of the dual dimensions of the right to subsistence: from the inside to the outside and then to the inside. The right to subsistence was born in people’s appeals for subsistence. People need to produce and live secure in a relatively stable international and domestic environment; furthermore, in production and living, only when they solve the problem of basic subsistence, like having ample food and clothing, can people seek better and all-round development.
 
The progressive disclosure of the dual dimensions on the level of logic does not mean dividing the right to subsistence into two clearly defined stages. As mentioned above, national independence and unity are not a cause done once and forever. Many countries were mired in disorder and were even overturned in history for various reasons. Therefore, we must remain alert to the uncertainties. It means that the international dimension of the right to subsistence did not end upon the founding of the People’s Republic of China, but rather it should always be the cornerstone and ballast stone of human rights in China. Discarding the domestic dimension and only talking about the international dimension shows poor judgment; discarding the international dimension and only talking about the domestic dimension is like building a castle in the air. For this reason, the international and domestic dimensions of the right to subsistence should be well combined. 
 
III. The Logical Progression of the Right to Subsistence in China: Anchoring and Mortising
 
Only when people’s basic living needs are met can they truly enjoy the right to subsistence. It is from this international aspect of the right to subsistence that China’s internal aspect of this right expanded.65 Here, the “people” are not only the people of the whole world but the people within a country and not only the general public but also every individual. There may be some differences between the collective and individuals in developing and realizing rights,66 but their basic purposes, the value of rights, and places in the human rights system with Chinese characteristics are not contradictory, so they can be put together to be analyzed. Since there is substantial overlap between the right to subsistence and other human rights, directly delimiting this right may make it too wide or too narrow. This paper first “anchors” the right to subsistence in China with the human rights system with Chinese characteristics by identifying its place in this system before exploring the connotations and boundary of this right and its “mortising” with other human rights. This also reflects the logical progression of the right to subsistence in China.
 
A. Development axis of the human rights system with chinese characteristics
 
To anchor the place of the right to subsistence in China, and then discuss its logical progression, first of all, it is necessary to have an overall view of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics and its key links. China’s development philosophy and its human rights discourse and practice in recent years have shown that the right to subsistence as the primary basic human rights has been a priority in China’s human rights cause. At present, China’s human rights development strategy has begun to shift to building a human rights discourse system with the right to development as the core and development as the “axis.”67This means that development and the right to development are vital to the understanding and anchoring of the right to subsistence in China.
 
At first, both the right to development and the right to subsistence faced the same dilemma: as human rights protection proceeded, the right to development inevitably overlapped with other human rights, and the boundaries between them became obscure.68 As a solution to this problem, the right to development is regarded as a bundle of rights that includes many development-related rights in political, economic, social, cultural, and other fields.69 This does not mean that the right to development is a simple addition of relevant human rights, nor does it mean that the right to development directly covers or replaces other human rights.70 In the process of development, each human right has its specific field and directly promotes the protection of rights and interests and causes in that field. The right to development means the right to equal development opportunities and the right to enjoy a happy life, and it represents a holistic approach in coordinating the relationship between various human rights in the process of development, deals with the conflict, competition, and cooperation of different rights, and ensures that everyone can access nondiscriminatory and equal development opportunities, have the necessary material conditions for development, and enjoy the fruits of development.71 Promoting development in all fields will also promote the right to development.72
 
In this process, development, as the top priority of governing and rejuvenating China and the key to solving all China’s problems, is not only the driving force for the realization and protection of human rights but also the axis connecting all human rights, including the right to development.73 However, development is not exclusive to the right to development, but is in the entire process of human rights undertakings such as economy, society, culture, and politics; development means adhering to the principle of putting people first, equality and non-discrimination, meeting people’s basic material or non-material needs, and continuously improving the well-being of all people.74 All human rights need to be realized and guaranteed through development, and so does the right to subsistence.75 Therefore, if we simply regard the right to development as all the rights needed to realize development, it will improperly expand its scope and diminish the significance of other rights.76 Since the core of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics is development, and development is not exclusive to the right to development, the protection and realization of human rights can be divided into different stages according to the level of development. This means that in the human rights system with Chinese characteristics, it is reasonable and feasible to approach the right to subsistence with development as the axis and the right to development as the reference.
 
The right to subsistence is also China’s primary basic human right. In the official documents, as represented by China’s white paper on human rights, it is of the same significance as the right to development, and their discussion often outweighs other human rights, which means that the position of the Chinese government on human rights protection is: first, the right to subsistence should be the same as the right to development and should not be regarded as a simple aggregation of relevant human rights, nor should it diminish the independence and significance of other human rights; second, they are at the same logic level and have differences and boundaries, so their relationship is not one of inclusion or subordination. This is the key to understanding 
the right to subsistence.
 
B. Anchoring on the axis of development before mortising with other rights 
 
Individuals, society or countries all have different primary pursuits at different levels of development. The needs of individuals can also be divided into different levels under different development states and stages. Some people can adhere to a higher-level pursuit even without necessary subsistence materials by virtue of will and morality, but it is difficult for the whole society to do so over the long term. “When the granaries are full, the people will follow appropriate rules of conduct.” Generally speaking, only after people’s low-level needs are met will they pursue higher-level needs. The most basic human need is subsistence. Through continuous development, human needs can be effectively upgraded from a low level to a high level.77 For society as a whole, when its development level is low, the goal of development is to eradicate poverty and meet people’s basic needs; only when the development level has been continuously improved and poverty and other basic living-related issues have been properly resolved can a society truly build a moderately prosperous society, providing more space for the all-round development of its people.
 
This reflects the logical progression of the right to subsistence: its international aspect provides conditions for the further protection of other rights, based on which its internal aspect further emphasizes that meeting people’s basic needs provides the foundation for their further development. Therefore, the human rights system with Chinese characteristics holds that for both individuals and the collective, when their development level is low, the internal aspect of the right to subsistence is undoubtedly the main theme and “commander,” and respecting and ensuring this right is also the purpose of development. This shows that the internal aspect of the right to subsistence covers the initial stage of development, corresponds to a low development level, and has become the starting point of a human rights system with Chinese characteristics with the right to development as the core and development as the axis and measure.
 
Similar to the right to development, the internal aspect of the right to subsistence has indeed touched many fields in practice which are all premised on meeting people’s most basic needs. This is also the basic requirement for the realization and protection of human rights. When a person is at the level of needing to meet basic life needs, the right to subsistence will play the main role. Once a person’s basic living conditions exceed the threshold of the right to subsistence, that person’s basic needs will have been met and the right to subsistence will be superseded by the right to development which aims to ensure that everyone has equal development opportunities, realizes all-round development, and shares the fruits of development. As far as the collective is concerned, when the overall economic and social development level is low, the resources available to members of the society are generally bound to be limited, making the realization and protection of the right to subsistence more critical. With the gradual development of the overall economy and society, the resources and opportunities of social members would continue to increase, and poverty and subsistence-related problems will gradually be solved, and people will begin to pursue a higher standard of life, making the role of the right to development increasingly important. But this does not mean the right to subsistence is no longer important. Due to the imbalance of development, the basic needs of some people in developed societies are still unmet. The right to development of these groups must also be based on respect and protection of the right to subsistence.
 
Therefore, the human rights system with Chinese characteristics takes the international aspect of the right to subsistence as the cornerstone and development as the core axis that extends from the cornerstone. The internal aspect of the right to subsistence corresponds to the initial stage of the development axis and meeting people’s basic living needs is the boundary between the right of subsistence and the right to development. With the elevation of the development level, the scope of human needs and the scope that human rights can cover will increase, so will the care provided to people. This development-based progression is evidenced in practice. For example, China’s poverty alleviation campaign does not simply provide the poor with the necessities for subsistence, but also guides poverty-stricken areas and people in poverty to promote market-oriented development, adjust economic structure, develop local resources and commodity production, and improve their selfdevelopment capacity.78 Through poverty reduction, impoverished people’s right to subsistence is effectively ensured, thus providing a basis for the realization of the right to development in the future.79
 
IV. The Connotations of the Internal Aspect
 
The anchoring of the internal aspect of the right to subsistence in the human rights system with Chinese characteristics and its mortising with or logical progression to the right to development further clarifies the connotations of the right to subsistence.
 
A. The attributes of the right to subsistence
 
In the internal aspect, similar to the right to development, there is an overlap in the content between the right to subsistence and other human rights, especially related economic and social rights. This is a problem that needs to be addressed in the theory of the right to subsistence, and also a reality that must be taken into account. The aforementioned relationship between the right to subsistence and the right to development shows that the rights-bundle attribute of the right to development helps to better understand the right to subsistence.
 
In the human rights system with Chinese characteristics, all human rights stem from the protection of people’s right to subsistence and development.80 In the Chinese human rights discourse, many indicators in economic, social, and other fields can be applied to the protection of the rights to subsistence and development.81 In this case, based on the aforementioned relationship between the right to subsistence and the right to development, since the former as a bundle of rights includes many related rights in the economic, social, cultural, and other fields, and guides these specific rights,82 then it is justified to also regard the latter as a bundle of rights. As the internal aspect of the right to subsistence focuses on the basic living needs of people at the collective and individual levels, its scope is narrower than the right to development dedicated to promoting people’s all-round development. This is a systematic interpretation of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics with development as the axis and measure.
 
The rights-bundle attribute of the right to development and right to subsistence serves as the axis of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics, but that does not mean that the two rights can fully cover all human rights. As mentioned earlier, the right to development is not a simple aggregation of all the rights needed for development, nor is the right to subsistence a simple addition of all the rights needed for subsistence. It does not and should not replace or cover relevant categories of human rights, but connect coordinates, and coordinate relevant rights that can perform specific functions in the process of realizing and ensuring the minimum standard of human subsistence, which brings the original separate and isolated development of different rights to an end.83 Similarly, the right to subsistence should not be an allencompassing “super right.” It should be limited to a certain scope.84 We can’t simply equate the right to subsistence with the rights needed for subsistence, because all human rights are equally important and can’t be neglected.85 Confusing the right to subsistence with the rights needed for subsistence will include all human rights into it, which will improperly expand its scope. In particular, it is necessary to distinguish this right from the right to life: the latter focuses on the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of human life and the obligations of the state.86 Although this is a vital right, it does not need to be included in the right to subsistence, and the importance of the right to life does not need to be reflected by the right to subsistence.87 If the right to life is included in the right to subsistence, it will not only weaken the right to life but also deviate from China’s consistent stance and practice to guarantee the right to 
subsistence.
 
B. The content of the right to subsistence
 
The internal aspect of the right to subsistence ensures that every person can “truly enjoy due human dignity... and has their basic living needs met... When the problem of food and clothing is solved, so will the issues related to people’s right to subsistence.”88 This reflects the “bottom line” as embodied in the right to subsistence.89 Food, clothing, housing and transportation are closely related to people’s daily life, including the basic living needs in the right to subsistence and the higher-level pursuit in the right to development.90 These dimensions indispensable to people’s life can be divided into low-standard ones and high-standard ones according to the level of development, and be organically integrated. The low-standard ones are included the right to subsistence’s bundle of rights, and the high standard ones, are included in the rights bundle of the right to development. This also reveals the fundamental difference between the right to subsistence and the right to development. The bottom line in the right to subsistence can be further divided into the material and spiritual dimensions.
 
In the material dimension, people’s primary need is to survive, which entails the need to “eat, drink, and wear.” Material production to meet these needs is the first historical activity of mankind.91 It can be seen from China’s human rights white papers over the years that the bottom line changed from ensuring people had food, clothing, housing and transportation, life expectancy and health to the income and consumption level of urban and rural residents, poverty alleviation, and then to ensuring economic stability and development, disaster resistance and relief, social security and relief, production safety, food, and drug supervision, environmental protection, etc.92 It has been enriched along with social development to cover all aspects of the people’s minimum living standards.93 Instead of trying to fully meet all people’s wishes and needs, the bottom line aims to meet people’s most basic material needs which serve as a basis for the further realization of other human rights.94 A case in point is China’s struggle to get rid of poverty in recent years.95 At the same time, the standard of meeting basic needs is not fixed and changes with social development.96
 
For the spiritual dimension, the bottom line is human dignity, which means that mankind as the subject should be the end rather than the means.97 As long as they engage in socially harmless activities, everyone should be able to live a life commensurate with their ability,98 which is also an inherent value of human rights.99 Human dignity is the core of value100 commanding various basic rights and it points to the basic social status, equality, and respect that people should enjoy.101 Therefore, it is “the right of rights" and “the guarantee of human rights.”102 Human rights are rooted in human dignity, and the value of human rights also lies in maintaining and consolidating the basic dignity of human beings.103 Therefore, rather than just the so-called right to eat, the right to live,and other rights for animal survival,104 the right to subsistence should also be based on human dignity.105 China’s discourse and practice of the right to subsistence completely rejects the “subsistence exchange contract” that sacrifices human dignity and other human rights in exchange for material conditions for subsistence.106
 
C. The subject of the right to subsistence
 
As the primary human right, the right to subsistence is not only the starting point and bottom line of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics but also the premise for the full enjoyment and continuous pursuit of other human rights. Therefore, at the normative and value levels, the right to subsistence has the universality of human rights and can be possessed by all. However, at the functional level, this right is specific and targeted, and its subjects can be divided into explicit ones and implicit ones.
 
In China, the main forms of ensuring the right to subsistence are poverty alleviation, social relief, and other practices which are targeted and not to serve the rich. Different from the right to freedom with all “abstract” citizens as the main subjects, the specific issues such as social security emphasized by the right to subsistence are mainly for individuals such as the poor and the unemployed; only those who can’t even afford a basic living and have to live on state security programs are the explicit subject of this right.107 Those who have been able to gain a foothold in society and even pursue self-realization belong to the implicit “potential subject of right,”108 which is also stipulated in international human rights law: Economic, social, and cultural rights include minimum standards and the highest pursuit, and the minimum standards emphasize the protection of the disadvantaged groups and “strive for the well-being of vulnerable and marginalized groups and individuals.”109
 
Therefore, there is no contradiction between “everyone has the right to subsistence” and “not everyone needs to claim the right to subsistence.” At the level of norms and values, the right to subsistence is open to all. The people who go from being rich to poor can also claim the right to subsistence when they need state relief.110 When a person’s development level exceeds the above-mentioned “bottom line” and is in the stage of pursuing self-realization, the right to subsistence would be a “dormant state” for them, and will be “activated” and play a role only when they need to have their basic needs met again. Therefore, the subjects of the right to subsistence can be distinguished by the basic living standards embodied in the “bottom line”: those who do not cross this threshold are explicit subjects, and those who do are implicit subjects.
 
Just as being discussed on the international aspect of the right to subsistence, national independence and unity are not achieved once and for all. The mobility between the explicit and implicit subjects also reflects the continuous process of the internal aspect of this right. The basic living standard cannot be met once and for all. People who once have adequate food and clothing may also face a subsistence crisis due to many risk factors in human society and nature like COVID-19 now raging around the world. Therefore, even if China has achieved an all-round victory in poverty alleviation and effectively eliminated absolute poverty, we should continue to pay attention to the internal aspect of the right to subsistence.
 
V. Conclusion
 
The human rights discourse and the human rights system with Chinese characteristics formed by the CPC in its 100 years of struggle holds that “no human right is more important than the right to a happy life of the people” and defines human rights from the people’s standpoint.111 The key to the right to subsistence and development lies in safeguarding and improving people’s livelihoods. Under the leadership of the CPC, China’s human rights cause proceeded in stages: first, we achieved subsistence, and on this basis, we realized historic leaps from poverty to securing access to food and clothing, on to moderate prosperity. In this process, development has been the constant driving force.112
 
The practice of China’s human rights cause has fully shown that the right to subsistence has a dual aspect — the international aspect and the internal aspect. The international aspect means the Chinese people gain a foothold in the international community with dignity and are free from aggression and interference in their affairs. A domestic and international environment that are secure and stable can better protect the human rights of all the people, and realize the organic integration of the right of national self-determination and national sovereignty. It is not a simple addition of the two but entails more attention to the right to subsistence, which lays a foundation for the further protection and realization of human rights. Thus, the internal aspect of this right is anchored at the initial stage of the development axis of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics, and on this basis, it is mortised with the right to development. On the axis of development, it is a “bottom line” rights bundle mainly caring for those who need to ensure a basic living.
 
Therefore, the logic of the right to subsistence, on the whole, is progressive. Its international aspect and internal aspect are an inseparable and organically unified whole, which together constitute the starting point for the human rights system with Chinese characteristics. Even though the above dual aspects of the right to subsistence are basically guaranteed in China, the status of the right to subsistence should continue to be affirmed to consolidate the integrity and stability of the human rights system with Chinese characteristics. China should build its own discourse system and publicize the achievements of its human rights cause, continue to provide a theoretical basis for a human rights system with Chinese characteristics and guide the way forward for China’s practice of protecting the right to subsistence and deal with the risks and challenges in human society and nature.
 
Of course, as explained earlier, this paper mainly analyzes the right to subsistence from the macro level, focusing on the overview of the right to subsistence. Due to the length constraint and gist of this paper, its specific rights, especially the fields and rights related to the right bundle of its internal aspect, has not been touched on, which is also what the author will ponder on in the future.
 
(Translated by JIANG Lin)
 
* WEI Xiaoxu ( 魏晓旭 ), Researcher of Human Rights Center and Doctoral Candidate of the Law School, Jilin University. This paper is a phased achievement of the Research on the Mechanism to Enhance China’s Right of Speech on the International Law Guided by the National Image (19AFX024), part of the National Social Science Fund of China.
 
1. Lu Guangjin, “The Dimension and Value Orientation to Construct the Chinese Human Rights Discourse System in Modern Times”, Human Rights 4 (2020): 1.
 
2. It is a common expression in the white paper on China’s human rights. All the citations in the paper relating to the white paper are from the official website of the Information Office of the State Council (http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/index.htm), which will not be marked one by one below. 
 
3. The white paper entitled Progress in China’s Human Rights Cause in 2000. 
 
4. For instance, “Further Mobilize All the Party Members and the Whole Society to Win the Victory of the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program — A Speech at the Central Committee Meeting on Poverty Alleviation”, People’s Daily, July 21, 1999; Xi Jinping, “Xi Jinping’s Congratulatory Letter to the 2015 ? Beijing Forum on Human Rights”, Human Rights 5 (2015): 1-2; Xi Jinping, “Letter of Xi Jinping to the Symposium on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Stressing Persistently Adhering to the Path of Human Rights Development Conforming to China’s National Conditions and Stimulating All-round Development of Human Beings”, People’s Daily, December 11, 2018.
 
5. The white paper entitled Human Rights in China (1991). 
 
6. Xu Xianming, “Theory on the Right to Subsistence”, Social Sciences in China 5 (1992); Li Long, “On the Right to Subsistence”, Law Review 2 (1992); Li Long and Wan E’xiang, International Protection for Theories on Human Rights (Wuhan: Wuhan University Press, 1992), 31-41; Yang Chengming, Human Rights Law(Beijing: China Fangzheng Publishing House, 2004), 117; Yang Jianjun, “National Governance, Improvement of the Rights to Subsistence and Development and Construction of the Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings”, Legal Forum 1 (2018).
 
7. Shangguan Piliang, “What Is On Earth the Right to Subsistence”, Journal of Jiangsu Police Institute 6 (2006); Long Xianghe, “The Concept of Social Rights”, Hebei Law Science 9 (2007); Li Lin, The Exploration of the Path to Human Rights (Beijing: Law Press, 2010), 192-198; Liu Maolin et al., The Improvement of Rights System in the Chinese Constitution: Taking the International Conventions on Human Rights as Reference(Beijing: Peking University Press, 2013), 216; Lin Laifan, Lectures on Constitutional Law, second ed. (Beijing: Law Press, 2015), 392-395. Strictly speaking, although the authors all apply the wording “social rights”, some scholars have viewed them from the perspective of social rights or basic rights in the Constitution while others 
have viewed them from the angle of social rights in International Human Rights Law. 
 
8. In recent years, the official English translation adopted the term “right to subsistence” in the White Paper entitled the Great Practice of the Communist Party of China in Respecting and Protecting the Human Rights in 2021, White Paper entitled Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution in 2021, White Paper entitled Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress in Human Rights in China in 2019 and White Paper entitled Progress in Human Rights over the 40 Years of Reform and Opening-up in China in 2018. International Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New Achievements of Human Rights in China (2012-2017) (Beijing: World Affairs Press, 2017), 11, 161 and 225; Jiao Bo, “Sustainable Development and the Right to Subsistence”, Journal of Political Science and Law 3 (2002). 
 
9. In recent years, the official English translation adopted the wording “right to life” in the White Paper entitled Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang in 2020, the white paper entitled Human Rights in Xinjiang —Development and Progress in 2017 and the white paper entitled Progress in China’s Human Rights in 2014 (issued in 2015). Also see Yang Jianjun, “National Governance, Improvement of the Rights to Subsistence and Development and Construction of the Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings”, Legal Forum 1 (2018).
 
10. Wang Jiafu, Encyclopedia of Human Rights in China (Beijing: Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, 1998), 531.
 
11. Hu Dawei, “Jurisprudential Analysis of the Right to Subsistence — Human Rights in the View of the Rule of Law” (Master’s thesis, Suzhou University, 2004).
 
12. Li Yanfang, “On the Right to Environment and Its Relations with the Rights to Subsistence and Development”, Journal of Renmin University of China 5 (2000).
 
13. Zhao Xuegang and Wang Yaqin, “Conceptual differentiation between the right to life and the right to subsistence”, Journal of Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 6 (2004).
 
14. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., vol. 20 (Beijing: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2010), 658-659.
 
15. For instance, criticize the right to subsistence for “eating their fill and wearing warm clothes to replace human rights” and “not having the attributes of right”. See Yang Chengming, Human Rights Law (Beijing: China Fangzheng Publishing House, 2004), 115.
 
16. the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Article 20.1.
 
17. Yasuaki Daisuke, “The Right to Subsistence as a Specific Right”, trans. by Lin Hao, Translation and Review of Foreign Laws 4 (1994): 1-12.
 
18. This paper is targeted at making a categorical analysis of the right to subsistence. It is also the prerequisite and foundation to further analyze the specific connotations of the right to subsistence and relevant domestic laws and the International Human Rights Law. Nonetheless, the right to subsistence is a comparatively grand subject. Due to limited conception and length, the paper will not further analyze the specific questions involving the right to subsistence. 
 
19. The white paper entitled The Great Practice of the Communist Party of China in Respecting and Protecting the Human Rights in 2021.
 
20. Bruno Simma, et al., The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, vol.1, 3rd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 136.
 
21. The Charter of the United Nations, Article 2.
 
22. UN General Assembly, Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, A/RES/3281(XXIX).
 
23. UN General Assembly, Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, A/RES/2625(XXV).
 
24. Zeng Lingliang, “The Trend of Humanized Development of the Modern International Law”, Social Sciences in China 1 (2007): 89-103; He Zhipeng, “Globalization and the Shift of International Law to Humanism”, Jilin University Journal Social Sciences Edition 1 (2007): 113-120.
 
25. He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights: Reflections and Reconstruction (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2012), 275-309.
 
26. Ibid., 298.
 
27. Important documents on important international human rights laws including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights repeatedly stress the expressions of “all human beings”, “everyone”, “all individuals” and “no one” etc. 
 
28. He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights, 298. It is actually the problem of all collective human rights. Nonetheless, the international dimension of the right to subsistence has its own particular problems in addition to the common problems. 
 
29. Li Long, “On the Right to Subsistence”, Law Review 2 (1992): 2-3; or as the background of right that is unnecessary to discuss, for instance, Xu Xianming, “Theory on the Right to Subsistence”, Social Sciences in China 5 (1992): 39-56.
 
30. Wang Yi, “Work Together to Promote and Protect Human Rights and Build a Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings”, People’s Daily, February 27, 2017.
 
31. Isaiah Berlin, Freedom and Its Betrayal, trans. Zhao Guoxin (Nanjing: Yilin Press, 2005), 23-26; Ma Depu, “The Historical Materialist Solution to Isaiah Berlin’s Value Pluralism”, Social Sciences in China 11 (2013): 27-29.
 
32. For instance, in discussing the traditional Chinese value on human rights, Jack Donnelly held the view that the idea that “different civilizations can take different attitudes to human rights” was “significantly misleading” because no attitude to human rights would be possible without the concept of human right. In contrast, he regarded the care of traditional Chinese culture for human beings as “the path of social justice or the wellbeing of mankind” rather than “the path of human rights”; besides, “right” and “benefit” were different. Jack Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (New York: Cornell University Press, 2013), 77. 
 
33. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 2 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1957), 146.
 
34. He Zhipeng and Wei Xiaoxu, “Openness and Inclusiveness: the Cultural Dimension of China’s View of the International Law in the New Era”, Chinese Review of International Law 5 (2019): 3-18. 
 
35. He Zhipeng and Sun Lu, Chinese Theory on the International Law (Beijing: Law Press China, 2017), 59-102.
 
36. The white paper entitled Human Rights in China (1991). 
 
37. “Shouldering the Lofty Mission of Rapidly Building the Philosophical, Social and Scientific Systems with Chinese Characteristics”, accessed November 20, 2020, http://theory.people.com.cn/n1/2019/0517/c40531-31089668.html.
 
38. Xi Jinping, “Correctly Recognize and Grasp the Major Issues of Mid and Long-Term Economic and Social Development”, QIUSHI 2 (2021). 
 
39. The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
 
40. Relevant resolutions of the African Committee on Human and People’s Right, e.g., ACHPR/Res.133(XXXXIV)08, ACHPR/Res.219(LI)2012, ACHPR/Res.282(LV)2014, ACHPR/Res.340(LVIII)2016; Handling of the documents received, e.g., Communication 338/07, Communication 75/92, Communication 
144/95, Communication 147/95-149/96, Communication 227/99.
 
41. “Building a Closer China-African Community with a Shared Future”, People’s Daily, January 16, 2021.
 
42. He Zhipeng, “Modernity of the International Law: Theoretical Presentation”, Tsinghua Law Review 5 (2020), 156-159.
 
43. Karen Mingst and Ivan Arreguín-Toft, ed., Essentials of International Relations, 7th edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017), 77.
 
44. He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights, 280.
 
45. For instance, the decrease of the national obligations for human rights in the international human rights laws. In the social exigency relating to the national survival, the state can reduce part of the obligations for human rights within essential limits. However, the reduction should be aimed at realizing and safeguarding the human rights in normal conditions. Legitimate and reasonable measures should be taken in the course of guaranteeing national survival. CCPR, General Comment No. 29: States of Emergency (Article 4), CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11.
 
46. The white paper entitled Human Rights in China (1991).
 
47. Fundamentally speaking, right refers to the obvious or potential requirement for the basic interests appearing in an organized society, proposed down-top by comparatively disadvantageous individual to the organization (the “individual” here refers to not merely the person in the domestic society but also the country in the international community) and regarded to belong to all the members of the society. See He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights, 24-28.
 
48. Specifically speaking, nation is a group formed on the basis of some natural foundation and featuring the same historical traditions, language and similar traits of character during historical and social development. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 5(Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1958), 420.
 
49. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 37(Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1971), 370-371.
 
50. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 35 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1971), 260-261.
 
51. Lenin, The Collected Works of Lenin, 2nd edition, vol. 28 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1990), 152.
 
52. Although Lenin adopted the wording “the right to separation” in interpreting the right to self-determination, he didn’t intend to split the country but awakened the people to hurl themselves into revolution and struggling. Bai Guimei, Self-determination in International Law (Beijing: The Chinese Overseas Publishing House, 1999), 8-15 and 235-236. 
 
53. According to the International Law, after the era of colonization, the right of peoples to self-determination must be exercised under the prerequisites of massively violating the human rights of a particular nation or with the prior approval of sovereign countries. He Zhipeng, “The Puzzle of Self-determination in International Law”, Wuhan University International Law Review 2 (2014): 27-44. Each nation and even a particular group of people in a multinational country has the demand to pursue better survival and development. However, it is a question more relating to domestic economic and social development and distribution of wealth than the international dimension of the right to subsistence pursuing independent status.
 
54. Lenin, The Collected Works of Lenin, 2nd edition, vol. 28, 152.
 
55. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 35, 262.
 
56. The Charter of the United Nations, Articles 1-2.
 
57. Take African countries as an example. For a long period of time, the frequent conflicts between different nations, tribes and ethnic groups aggravated the internal separation of the countries there. It was also the cause of massive human rights and humanitarian crises and even armed conflicts. Rachel Murray, The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2000), 128-129.
 
58. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol.3 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1960), 70-71. In Marx’s view, the state fundamentally serves the interests of the ruling class and therefore the interests of the people in socialist countries are different from those in capitalist countries in the degree of manifestation and guarantee. 
 
59. Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, vol. 2 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1991), 677.
 
60. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 4(Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2009), 193.
 
61. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Collected Works, vol. 9(Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 2009), 297.
 
62. The white paper entitled Human Rights in China (1991).
 
63. James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
 
64. Not merely domestic scholars but foreign scholars have also brought forth similar ideas. Evan J. Criddle and Evan Fox-Decent, “A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens”, Yale Journal of International Law 34 (2009): 349-352.
 
65. The white paper entitled Human Rights in China (1991).
 
66. He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights, 121-193.
 
67. Chang Jian, “Reconstructing the Human Rights Discourse System with the Right to Development as the Core”, Frontline 8 (2017): 111-112.
 
68. UNOHCHR, Frequently Asked Questions on the Right to Development, Fact Sheet No. 37, New York and Geneva, 2016, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FSheet37_RtD_EN. pdf, page 2.
 
69. He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights: Reflections and Reconstruction, 176-191; Wang Xigen, “Legal Philosophical Analysis of the Meaning of the Right to Development, Modern Law 6 (2004); Dai Jing, “Individuals as the Subject of the Right to Development”, Modern Law 2 (2019).
 
70. Even if various human rights are related to the right to development, they each have their own unique elements. For example, the right to health emphasizes people’s health and related security programs at all times, but the higher the level of development, the better the right to health is safeguarded. Here we can take the discipline of “human rights” as an example: human rights involve interdisciplinary areas such as philosophy, law, political science, sociology and economics. These specific disciplines belong to different fields and develop independently at ordinary times. However, when dealing with human rights issues, we can develop a “human rights science” to coordinate various disciplines and take human rights as the clue to coordinate relevant research of these disciplines without delving into their specific issues. Here, human rights science is a “discipline bundle”. But it is not a simple aggregation of various disciplines, nor can it replace other disciplines. The same is true of the “rights bundle” of the right to development and the right to subsistence as will be discussed below.
 
71. Wei Xiaoxu, “Redefinition of the Right to Development: Function, Realization and Value”, Human Rights 2 (2020): 35-52.
 
72. Commission on Human Rights, Frameworks for Development Cooperation and the Right to Development, E/CN.4/2002/WG.18/6.
 
73. The White Paper entitled Progress in Human Rights over the 40 Years of Reform and Opening Up in China (2018).
 
74. Report of the Secretary General, Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/1334, para. 27; UNHCR, UN Declaration on the right to development at 25.
 
75. Zhi Zhenfeng, “Development Is the Most Solid Support for Human Rights”, People’s Daily, June 16, 2016.
 
76. As pointed out by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, all human rights should be equal and interdependent, so the right to development is neither a “super right” that covers all other rights, nor a “pocket right” that is strictly restricted or even denied. See UNOHCHR, Frequently Asked Questions on the Right to Development, page 2.
 
77. A. H. Maslow, “A Theory of Human Motivation”, Psychological Review 50 (1943): 370-396; He Zhipeng, Basic Theories on Rights, 185-187.
 
78. The white paper entitled New Progress in Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program for Rural China (2001).
 
79. The white paper entitled The Right to Development: China’s Philosophy, Practice and Contribution (2016).
 
80. Li Junru, “The Right to Subsistence and Development from the Source of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, Human Rights 5 (2018): 4.
 
81. All the citations in the paper relating to the white paper are from the official website of the Information Office of the State Council (http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/index.htm).
 
82. Wei Xiaoxu, “Redefinition of the Right to Development.”
 
83. See footnote 70.
 
84. UNOHCHR, Frequently Asked Questions on the Right to Development, Fact Sheet No. 37, New York and Geneva, 2016,
 
85. Wang Yi, “Work Together to Promote and Protect Human Rights and Build a Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings”, People’s Daily, February 27, 2017.
 
86. Novak, Commentary on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, trans. Sun Shiyan and Bi Xiaoqing (Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing Company, 2008), 125-162; William A. Schabas, The European Convention on Human Rights: A Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 117-214.
 
87. Zhao Xuegang and Wang Yaqin, “Conceptual differentiation between the right to life and the right to subsistence”, 38-43.
 
88. He Zhipeng and Sun Lu, Chinese Theory on the International Law.
 
89. Defining the right to subsistence as ensuring basic needs is not a derogation of this right, nor does it lower the status of this right. The human rights system with Chinese characteristics includes many rights other than the right to subsistence. By clarifying the boundaries between the right to subsistence and other rights, we can promote all human rights to perform their respective duties, so as to more reasonably and effectively realize 
and protect human rights.
 
90. This is also consistent with the connotations of economic, social and cultural rights in international human rights law: as pointed out in Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, economic and social rights are overriding rights that should be gradually realized. These rights not only emphasize the obligations of the state, but also have different levels within themselves, including the minimum standards and the highest standards to be achieved, and require the state to respect the minimum subsistence rights of all the people. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General comment No. 3: The Nature of States Parties’ Obligations (art. 2, para. 1, of the Covenant), para. 9, accessed November 20, 2020, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_ layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=9&DocTypeID=11; A. J. M. Milne, Human Rights and Human Diversity — An Essay in the Philosophy of Rights, trans. Xia Yong and Zhang Zhiming (Beijing: China Encyclopedia Press, 1995), 204.
 
91. Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, Selected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, vol. 1 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1995), 78-79.
 
92. All the citations in the paper relating to the white paper are from the official website of the Information Office of the State Council (http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/index.htm).
 
93. This “minimum” basic living standard and guarantee is also clearly provided in international human rights law. For example, the right to an adequate standard of living (including the right to adequate food, the right to adequate housing, etc.), the right to health, the right to water, the right to work, the right to education, the right to social security and other specific rights stipulated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights all have minimum standards to ensure everyone’s dignified subsistence. For detailed discussion, please refer to the relevant documents of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. acessed November 20, 2020, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CESCR/pages/cescrindex.aspx.
 
94. Therefore, some scholars call it the right to get rid of poverty. Li Xiguang and Guo Xiaoke, The Human Rights Report Reader (Beijing: Tsinghua University Press, 2007 edition), 101-128.
 
95. Taking poverty alleviation as an example, China’s poverty alleviation is not the traditional extensive poverty alleviation, but the orderly and targeted one throughout the country, and has achieved great results. Xi Jinping, “Resolutely Fight Poverty and Accelerate Economic and Social Development in Ethnic Areas,”accessed November 20, 2020, http://www.xinhuanet.com/2015-01/21/c_1114082460.html; The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Party History and Literature Research Institute, Xi Jinping’s Summary of Poverty Alleviation (Beijing: Central Literature Press, 2018).
 
96. Yasuaki Daisuke, On the Right to Subsistence, trans. Lin Hao (Beijing: Law Press, 2000 edition), 95-99.
 
97. Immanuel Kant, Principles of Moral Metaphysics, trans. Miao Litian (Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Publishing House, 2002), 52.
 
98. Lin Laifan, Handout on Constitutional Law, Second Edition (Beijing: Law Press, 2015), 387-388.
 
99. Zhang Guangjie and Xu PinFei, “What is Human Rights — Three Interpretations and One Answer”, in Fudan Human Rights Research (Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2004), 4.
 
100. Liu Zhigang, “Constitutional Significance of Human Dignity”, Chinese Law 1 (2007): 37-44.
 
101. Yang Lixin, “Personal Freedom and Human dignity: the Transformation from Public Rights to Private Rights”, Modern Law 3 (2018): 3-14.
 
102. Zhang Yan, “Human Dignity: the Basis of Legal Rights in the Secular Era”, Journal of Renmin University of China 5 (2019): 121-132.
 
103. Qi Yanping, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Jinan: Shandong People’s Publishing House, 2003), 38.
 
104. Gong Xianghe, “Criticism and Reconstruction of the Concept of the Right to Subsistence”, Learning and Exploration 1 (2011): 102.
 
105. Yasuaki Daisuke, “The Issue of the Right to Subsistence in Constitutional Protection”, Treatise on Constitutionalism (vol. I) (Beijing: Law Press, 1988), 431.
 
106. There is a view or theory in the West: Survival exchange contract at least guarantees people’s subsistence and many people choose to give up part of their rights or dignity in exchange for subsistence after independent consideration; arbitrarily banning such contracts seems to protect human rights, but it will actually push these vulnerable groups into greater pain. This concept points to “animal survival”. Rowan Cruft et al., Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 519-534 and 536.
 
107. Liu Maolin, et al., Improvement of China’s Constitutional Rights System: Taking International Human Rights Conventions as a Reference (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2013), 216. The right to subsistence corresponds to the positive obligations of the state, while the right to freedom corresponds to the negative obligations of the state without interference, which is also one of the reasons why the subjects of rights are different.
 
108. Yasuaki Daisuke, On the Right to Subsistence, 16 and 95. Dashuheming further summarized the subjects of the right to subsistence, including those nationals who are unemployed, go bankrupt, have the ability to work but do not get the opportunity to work due to the structural ills of capitalist societies, those who have difficulties in life due to disease and all nationals who are unable to maintain a minimum life due to poverty.
 
109. A. Eide et al., Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, trans. Huang lie (Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Press, 2003), 5-6.
 
110. Lin Laifan, Handout on Constitutional Law, 392-395. 
 
111. Xi Jinping, “Xi Jinping Emphasizes Adherence to the Path of Human Rights Development in Line with the National Conditions and Promote the All-round Development of Human Beings in His Letter to the Symposium on Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, People’s Daily, December 11, 2018.
 
112. Liu Huawen, “No Human Right Is More Important than the Right to a Happy Life”, overseas edition of People’s Daily, December 11, 2018.
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