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Research on the Virtuous Cycle Between the Right to Subsistence and the Right to Development
March 20,2022   By:CSHRS
Research on the Virtuous Cycle Between the Right to Subsistence and the Right to Development 
 
MA Yuan * & CHANG Jian**
 
Abstract: The right to subsistence and the right to development are the primary basic human rights, and there is a certain connection between the two. Although they refer to different things, they are mutually dependent and restricted. It is necessary to distinguish the right to development as a means and the right to development as an end. The former is the right to participate in, promote, and enjoy development, while the latter is the right of all people to enjoy free, comprehensive, and harmonious development. The protection of the right to subsistence and the right to development form an interacting virtuous cycle under certain conditions. The process of building a moderately prosperous society embodies this virtuous cycle. To build a modern socialist country in an all-round way, it is still necessary to keep on promoting the virtuous cycle between the right to subsistence and the right to development.
 
Keywords: right to subsistence· right to development· virtuous cycle · all-round development of human beings
 
It has become a consensus in domestic human rights research field that the rights to subsistence and development are taken as “the primary human rights.” However, research on the structural relationship between the right to subsistence and the right to development remains relatively lacking. Although there has been some research into the relationship, this has focused on the consistency between the two rights. For example, Professor Xu Xianming believes that “development is the inevitable requirement of the right to subsistence” and the right to development is “both the manifestation mode of the right to subsistence and the content included in the right to subsistence.”1 On his part, Professor Yang Geng thinks that the right to subsistence is the basis for the right to development and the right to development itself develops based on the right to subsistence2 while Professor Qi Yanping thinks that “the right to development is the logical extension of the right to subsistence, a most important right.”3 In this paper, the authors believe that the right to subsistence and the right to development are two different types of rights and there is a certain internal tension between them. It is because of this tension that the different human rights contain each other and promote each other and which comprehensively enhances human rights protection.
 
I. Analyses of the Connotations and Levels of the Rights to Subsistence and Development 
 
Before the structural relationship between the right to subsistence and the right to development is discussed, it is necessary to clearly understand the connotations, extensions, and levels of the rights to subsistence and development. 
 
A. Connotations and extension of the right to subsistence 
 
The concept of “the right to subsistence” first appeared in the book, The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour published by the Austrian Jurist Anton Menger in 1886. Menger believed that some general objective standards should be established for the distribution of social wealth so that every person could obtain a basic part suitable for his or her subsistence. Therefore, each member of society has the right to ask the state for what is needed for his or her subsistence according to the standards and the right of an individual to ask the state to provide material guarantee for his or her subsistence.4 Henry Shue argues that the rights to security, liberty, and subsistence, as the three basic rights, constitute the bottom line of human morality.5 James Griffin regards autonomy, liberty and subsistence as the prescribed minimum requirements and that these constitute the “top-level” human rights.6 James Nickel considers the rights to subsistence, basic education, and basic health care to be the fundamental social rights, which are related to people’s ability to live with the minimum of dignity and are therefore the most basic human rights.7
 
There are three major viewpoints on the content of the right to subsistence. 
 
According to the first viewpoint, the right to subsistence should be narrowly defined as the right to a basic level of subsistence. For example, Shangguan Piliang believes that “the right to subsistence refers to the right of people to obtain sufficient food, clothing and housing to maintain a dignified standard of living, including the right to food, the right to clothing, the right to housing and some other specific rights.”8
 
The second viewpoint indicates that the right to subsistence includes the right to life and the rights related to subsistence. Akira Osuga of Waseda University published On the Right to Subsistence in 1984 in which he stated that the right to subsistence includes not only the right to life and the right to health but also the rights to education, environment and labour.9 Xie Pengcheng believes that the right to subsistence refers to the right to continue human life, including the right to life, the right to health, the right to labour, the right to rest and the right to life assistance, which requires governments not to harm the life and health of citizens and actively ensure the subsistence conditions of citizens.10 Similarly, Professor Yang Chengming believes that the right to subsistence includes both the right to life and the right to continue living, including the right to labour, the right to receive education, the right to work, the right to rest and the right to health, all of which cannot be separated from the subsistence of people.11 Yang Geng thinks that the right to subsistence in the traditional sense refers to the right to existence and it mainly refers to a person’s right to have his or her life protected, that is, the right to security provided by the state. However, the right to life cannot refer to just the security of life (including the right to life, the right to health and other personal rights), it should also ensure that a people’s basic living conditions are guaranteed, the country has the obligation to constantly improve people’s living conditions by developing the economy, society and cultural programs. The right to life inevitably includes the guarantee of the right to life.12 Li Buyun thinks that the right to subsistence is “the right of an individual to his or her life security and basic guarantee for the conditions for subsistence.”13 Wang Jiafu and Liu Hainian hold that “the right to life refers to the right to be guaranteed life security and have basic living needs satisfied.”14 Xu Xianming believes that life is the natural form of the right to subsistence, property is the material condition for the implementation of the right to subsistence, labour is a general means to implement the right to subsistence, social security is the relief method of the right to subsistence, development is the natural requirement of the right to subsistence, and the transformation of state functions is the guarantee of the right to subsistence. According to Xu, the right to subsistence is related to the right to life, the right to property, the right to social security, the right to receive education, the right to personal development, the right to a healthy environment, the right to health, the right to peace, etc..15 Li Long thinks that the contents of the right to subsistence vary with the times. Initially, the basic contents of the right to subsistence include only life and health. Marxism expanded the scope of the right to subsistence to the right to work, the right to rest, the right to material security, the right to education, etc.. After World War II, many contents were added to the right to subsistence, including the right not to live in hunger and poverty, the right to development, the right to defend oneself against violence, the right to social relief, the right of the special subject to subsistence, the right to peace, the right to a healthy environment and the right to humanitarian aid.16 Wang Xigen deems that “the right to subsistence includes the right to life, the right to the body and the right to health.”17
 
The third viewpoint believes that the right to subsistence should not include the right to life. For example, Gong Xianghe thinks that the right to subsistence is not the sum of all the rights related to subsistence and it should include the right to social security, the right to a proper living standard and the right to health, but not the right to life. The right to subsistence is not just the right to adequate food and clothing, but the right to the minimum necessary to live a life of dignity based on the right to adequate food and clothing. Not only the basic necessities maintaining the lowest living standards should be available, but also necessities should be consumed with dignity. These necessities are not limited to material things such as food, clothing and housing, but should also include spiritual things.18
 
From the view of developmental human rights theory, this research has defined the right to subsistence by comparing it with the right to development. As a basic right to implement the right to development, the right to subsistence should not only include the right to life, the right to personal security and the right to live a peaceful life, but also the right to all the basic conditions necessary to extend a person’s life, including the right to basic living standards, the right to basic medical treatment and public health services, the right to social security and the right to enjoy a healthy living environment. However, it should not include the rights related to development, such as the right to education and the right to property. 
 
B. Nature, dimension and level of the right to development 
 
The Declaration on the Right to Development passed by the United Nations in 1979 pointed out that the right to development “is a human right and that equality of opportunity for development is as much a prerogative of nations as of individuals within nations.”19 The Declaration of the Right to Development further emphasized that “the human being as the central subject of development” should be the active participant and beneficiary of the right to development. The right to development is both a personal right of “each individual” and the collective right of “the people of all countries.” The right to development is the right to “participate in, contribute to, and benefit from economic, social, cultural and political development.”20
 
Scholars have carried out research on the nature and contents of the right to development. Most of them are inclined to regard the right to development as a comprehensive, inclusive and coordinated right. Independent Expert on the Right to Development Arjun Sengupt thinks that the right to development has two distinct characteristics. On the one hand, it is a comprehensive right and it is one of all the interdependent rights. The right to development can be implemented only when all the rights are implemented together. The precondition for the implementation of the right to development is not just the sum of the implemented rights. On the other hand, the right to development improves only when at least one right is improved and all the other rights are not violated.21 Qi Yanping deems the right to development to be an inclusive right with similar requirements, qualifications and benefits among the human rights system and the human rights family. The generalization of the right to development indicates that the right to development is both a human rights principle and a legal principle though it is a right (in the sense of being different from the litigable right) as the right to equality.22 Xia Qingxia holds that the right to development has broken the ideological separation between civic and political rights and the economic, social and cultural rights, it has integrated the two kinds of human rights into the development progress of human rights, it admits the mutual connections and interdependence of all human rights, and it also admits that the implementation process of the right to development is the implementation process of all human rights.23 Ye Chuanxing points out that the right to development as a comprehensive right exists throughout various rights and its value orientation is also reflected in various rights. In this sense, the right to development reflects the interdependency and inseparability of various rights. It is best to regard the comprehensiveness of the right to development as the comprehensiveness of the spirit of the right to development reflected in various rights. The core of the right to development is that various rights such as civic rights, political rights, economic rights, social rights and cultural rights should comprehensively develop as the societies develop. In this sense, the right to development is more like a development principle that is reflected in the whole human rights system.24 Zhang Yonghe thinks that the right to development is not the simple integration of political rights and economic rights but the coordination among various rights, because the right to development can be implemented when at least one right is improved and all the other rights are not violated, the right to development is infringed if any right to development is violated. It is impossible to implement a right if other rights are not well protected and promoted while the right is implemented, which reflects the wholeness of the right to development.25
 
As for the dimensions of the right to development, Professor Wang Xigen has proposed that the right to development can be subdivided into five forms — the right to economic development, the right to political development, the right to social development, the right to cultural development and the right to ecological development.26 Professor Zhang Yonghe has distinguished the means of the right to development from its purpose and points out that the development as a means to implement the right to development mainly refers to the various aspects of development, such as the economic and social aspects of a country, and that the purpose of the right to development refers to the development of human beings themselves, that is, the free all-round development of human beings.27
 
The authors believe that when analysing the nature and contents of the right to development, the different levels of the contents of the right to development should be determined first. Viewed from the content of various documents of the United Nations on the right to development and domestic and foreign research on the right to development, the right to development encompasses at least four dimensions. 
 
The first dimension is related to the right to equally participate in development. The Declaration on the Right to Development states that the equal development opportunity is a qualified privilege for a nation and the individuals that constitute the nation, any nation and any individual of the nation have the right to “participate in development,” including participation in “economic, social, cultural and political development.” All nations should encourage people to participate in the development of various fields.28 In this sense, the right to participate in development includes, but is not limited to, the right to participate in economic life, such as the right to work and the right to property; the right to a political life, such as the right to vote, the right to be elected, the right to hold public office and the right to supervision; the right to participate in social life such as the right to receive education and the right to association; and the right to a cultural life. 
 
The second dimension is about the right to promote development. That is, the right to make contributions to economic, political, social and cultural development. The Declaration on the Right to Development has pointed out that any nation and any of the individuals that constitute the nation have the right to “promote” economic, political, social and cultural development.29 According to Resolution (A/RES/73/166) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its 73rd session on December 17, 2018, the disabled are both a force to promote development and the beneficiary of development30 when protection of the right of the disabled to development was discussed. 
 
The third dimension is related to the right to equally enjoy development achievements, which requires that the benefits brought by development should be distributed fairly. The Declaration on the Right to Development states that a nation and any individuals that constitute a nation have the right to enjoy the “fair distribution of the benefits” of development. All nations should take the necessary measures to ensure that “equality of opportunity for all” for access to basic resources and services, as well as “the eradication of all social injustices.”31 The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) point out that “any individual and any nation shall not be deprived of the right to benefit from development and it shall be guaranteed that men and women have equal rights and opportunities.”32 Resolution (A/RES/73/166) adopted by the UN General Assembly points out that inequality is a big barrier to implementation of the right to development in a nation and among nations, and the eradication of poverty in all forms and at all levels,including the eradication of extreme poverty, is a crucial factor to promote and implement the right to development.33
 
The fourth dimension is the right to achieve self-development. The Declaration on the Right to Development emphasizes that as the central subject of development, people should be the active participants and beneficiaries of the right to development. “States have the primary responsibility for the creation of national and international conditions favourable to the realization of the right to development.”34 Resolution (A/RES/73/166) adopted by the General Assembly requires that people should be placed at the centre of development and nations should be urged to implement “the people-centred development of the people, by the people and for the people.”35 The white paper on the right to development published by the Chinese government in 2016 pointed out that China “takes improving popular wellbeing and well-rounded development as the starting point and ultimate goal.”36 The white paper entitled “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China” published in 2019 points out that “promoting all-round development is the pursuit of human rights with the highest value.”37
 
It needs to be noted that the right to development of human beings themselves should not be understood as each separate individual’s right to development, but understood as all the people’s right to achieve free all-round harmonious development. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has pointed out that “we are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone.”38 Viewing from both the people’s human society attribute angle and the people’s mutual combination angle, Marx pointed out that an individual could obtain the means to develop all-round ability only when the individual was in a collective, that is, an individual can have individual freedom only when the individual is in a collective.39 Marxist thinkers have emphasized that a person’s free development should not be achieved based on hindering the free development of any other people, and “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”40 “The development of a person depends on the development of all the other people whom the person directly or indirectly contacts.”41 “An individual can obtain the means to develop his or her all-round talent only when the individual is in a collective.”42 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels clearly stated in The Communist Manifesto that “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”43
 
Viewed from their nature, the four dimensions of the connotation of the right to development can be divided into two levels: that of purpose and the means. The right to development of human beings themselves is a purposive right. The right to participate in, promote and enjoy development is a right of means to implement the right to development of human beings themselves. In other words, the right to development implements the free, all-round and harmonious development of all by letting the subjects equally participate in, promote and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development. In the above statement, participation in development is the precondition, promoting development is to make contributions to the society and enjoying development is the gaining of benefits. 
 
Distinguishing the two levels of the right to development helps more precisely determine the position of the right to development in the human rights system. The Resolution on the right to development adopted by the General Assembly in 2018 requires that the right to development shall be implemented as a fixed component of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.44 The right to development here is the right to development as a means. The right of all people to all-round development is neither a special right in the human rights system nor a “comprehensive” and “inclusive” right, but the ultimate value and purpose that need to be realized by all human rights. It is thus an “all-inclusive” right. 
 
II. Containment and Cycle Mechanism Between the Right to Subsistence and the Right to Development 
 
The connotations, extent and level of the right to subsistence and the right to development have been analysed in detail above, which has laid a conceptual foundation for analyses of the structural relationship between the two. The above analyses have shown that the right to subsistence and the right to development are two different kinds of rights and they contain each other and depend on each other. There is a “tension” between them. 
 
This tension is like a force inside an object that acts in a direction perpendicular to two adjacent surfaces when the object is pulled on both sides. In the Essential Tension written by Philosopher Thomas Kuhn in 1959, the concept was introduced into the philosophy of science. He thought that a necessary tension should be maintained in scientific research, that is, a necessary balancing capability should be maintained between divergent thinking and convergent thinking. The “tension” between human rights in this research refers to the mutual restrictive relation of the traction and support between different kinds of human rights. It is especially suitable for the description of the relationship between the right to subsistence and the right to development, that is, there is some mutual restrictive relation of the traction and support among the right to development as a purposive right, the right to development as a right of means and the right to development as a fundamental right. 
 
A. Different Orientations of the right to subsistence and the right to development 
 
The right to subsistence and the right to development have different orientations as well as different contents. As Professor Qi Yanping has said, “The right to subsistence is the bottom-line condition provided for guaranteeing human rights while the right to development represents the development trend and direction of human rights.”45
 
The orientation of the right to subsistence is the maintenance and continuation of life. The human mode of subsistence is in essence different from those of animals. Therefore, when human subsistence is mentioned, many scholars emphasize mode of subsistence should be “dignified” or “living in dignity.” For example, Martha Nussbaum emphasizes that a person should exist “as a free and dignified human being and a selective maker”46 and “A person should live with dignity as a human being.”47 James Nickel thinks that the right to subsistence is related to the minimum requirements for a life with dignity. Therefore, it belongs to the most fundamental human rights.48 Shangguan Piliang thinks that “the right to subsistence refers to the right of people to obtain sufficient food, clothing and housing to maintain dignified living standards.”49 Gong Xiang thinks that the right to subsistence is not only the right to sufficient food and clothing, but also the right to life with minimal human dignity based on the right to sufficient food and clothing. People must not only maintain the minimal primary goods necessary to live, but also dignifiedly enjoy these primary goods. The right to subsistence should not be limited to the material level such as clothing, food and housing, but it should also include the spiritual level of life.50 However, viewed from the specific contents of the right to subsistence and the difference between the right to subsistence and the other rights, ensuring “dignified” subsistence is related to the mode, contents and level of subsistence, but not the orientation of subsistence. Although participating in development and human
self-development philosophically belong to the human mode and contents of subsistence, they are obviously different from the guarantee content of each right in the bundle of rights in the right to subsistence, and they have different functions and they should not be confused with each other. The right to life, the right to personal security, the right to peace and some other rights included in the right to subsistence are related to having a person’s life protected from being taken or threatened at will. The right to basic living standards, the right to basic medical treatment and public health services, the right to social security, the right to enjoy a healthy living environment, and other rights included in the right to life, are related to the right to various basic conditions necessary to continuing life and they are not directly related to participating in the development and implementation of personal self-development. 
 
Different from the right to subsistence, the right to development is oriented to the human mode and purpose of life, that is, realization of all people’s free, all-round and harmonious development through extensive participation in all fields. The rights to participate in, promote and enjoy development, which are included in the right to development, are oriented to the modes, means and conditions to realize self-development. The right to personal self-development in the right to development is oriented to the fundamental purposes and ultimate values to be achieved by participating in, promoting and enjoying development. 
 
It can be seen that the right to subsistence is mainly related to subsistence while the right to development is related to human development. The two have different concerns and orientations. Strengthening the guarantee for the right to subsistence requires relevant people to pay more attention to the groups whose subsistence conditions are threatened in the society and it requires states to help social groups in disadvantageous positions through public finance. Improving the implementation level of the right to development requires states to give social members more free and fair opportunities and establish reasonable rules to promote fair competition. The legal measures and policy measures aiming to improve the guarantee for the right to subsistence will reduce social distance while the legal measures and policy measures aiming to promote the implementation of the right to development may increase social distance. In this sense, the implementation requirements of the right to subsistence and the implementation requirements of the right to development are not identical, and there is some tension between them.
 
B. The right to development and the right to subsistence are mutually containing. 
 
Although orientation of the right to subsistence is different from the orientation of the right to development, there is obviously a relationship between them. On the one hand, the requirements of the right to development have tractive effects on the form, content and level of the right to subsistence. The guarantee mode and guarantee content of the right to subsistence need to be adjusted, enhanced and improved. On the other hand, the implementation of the right to subsistence supports the implementation of the right to development. The free, all-round and harmonious development of people needs to be supported by the guarantee of the right to subsistence. If the right of people to subsistence cannot be effectively guaranteed, the realistic foundation for implementation of the right to development will be lost. If the guarantee for the right to subsistence is at a low level, the guarantee for the right to development cannot be correspondingly strengthened. In this sense, there are some mutual dependence relationships, some mutual involvement relationships and some mutual containment relationships between the implementation of the right to subsistence and the implementation of the right to development.
 
C. Double-layer cycle of the implementation process for both the right to subsistence and the right to development 
 
The implementation mode for the right to subsistence and the right to development forms a double-layer cycle in the interactive process, as shown in Figure 1. 
 
The first-layer is the interactive cycle of the right to subsistence and the right to development as a means in their implementation process. On one hand, the improvement of the guarantee for the right to subsistence provides more sufficient realistic conditions for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development. On the other hand, the improvement of the guarantee for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development also provides more abundant implementation modes and increment resources for the improvement of the guarantee for the right to subsistence. The mutual promotion between the two rights forms a virtuous cycle between the guarantee for the right to subsistence and the guarantee for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development. The development-oriented poverty reduction implemented by the Chinese government is the best practical illustration of the virtuous cycle. “Development” provides opportunities for poor regions and impoverished farmers to participate in, promote and enjoy development. By participating in, promoting and enjoying development, poor regions and poor farmers improve their subsistence status. Poverty reduction thus promotes the guarantee for the right to subsistence by strengthening the guarantee for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development. 

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The second-layer is the interactive cycle of the right to development as a means and the right to development as a purpose in their implementation process. On the one hand, enhancing the guarantees for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development can better promote free, all-round and harmonious human development. On the other hand, sufficient implementation of the right to personal self-development puts forward higher requirements for the implementation mode, content and level of the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development. As China transforms from a moderately prosperous society in all aspects into a modernized socialist country in all aspects, higher requirements are being put forward for the guaranteeing of human rights, in which this virtuous cycle is reflected in the implementation process of the right to development as a means and the right to development as a purpose.
 
When the above-mentioned two layers of interactions are both in a virtuous cycle, the tension between the right to subsistence and the right to development can reach the optimal state, that is, the free, all-round and harmonious human development is ultimately achieved through constant enhancement of the guarantee for the right to subsistence. The achieved human free, all-round and harmonious development in return promotes further enhancement of the guarantee for the right to subsistence.
 
D. Conditions necessary for the forming of the virtuous cycle in the implementation process of the right to subsistence and the right to development 
 
It needs to be noted that the interaction between the right to subsistence and the right to development may form a virtuous cycle or vicious cycle. If the guarantee for the right to subsistence is not effective enough, it will hinder the enhancement of the guarantee for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development, and this will in return have negative effects on the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development and the guarantee for the right to subsistence. Then this goes in circles and forms a vicious cycle. 
 
The key condition that decides whether a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle is formed is whether the relationship between freely participating in and promoting development and equally enjoying the development results is handled properly. On the one hand, promoting free participation and free competition helps promote economic development and personal self-development while also increasing income inequality and causing social instability. On the other hand, equal distribution of the development gains promotes the guarantee for the right to subsistence and reduces the possibility of social conflicts but it also reduces the enthusiasm of people to participate in and promote development, which goes against personal self-development. Therefore, a reasonable balance has to be maintained between promoting free participation in development and promoting equal enjoyment of the development results, which is the key to promoting the virtuous cycle of the implementation of the rights to subsistence and development. 
 
III. Virtuous Cycle Formed in the Implementation of the Rights to Subsistence and Development in China
 
In the process of constructing a moderately prosperous society in China, the virtuous cycle of the interaction between the right to subsistence and the right to development can be observed in the process of implementation. 
 
First, in the early stage of the construction of a moderately prosperous society, the CPC Central Committee and the state strived to lay a solid foundation for implementation of the right to development by enhancing the guarantee for the right to subsistence. The communiqué of the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee stated: “The life of the urban and rural people must gradually improve based on the development of production. The bureaucratic attitude indifferent to the pressing problems related to the people’s lives must be firmly opposed. Meanwhile, at present, China’s economy is still backward, people’s lives can only be improved little by little and the relevant situation must be told to the people.”51 After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping proposed to build a “moderately prosperous society,” which was a new concept with Chinese characteristics. The new concept refers to a relatively well-off and happy state of the people between a state of life with adequate food and clothing and an affluent state of life. If we analyse the construction of a moderately prosperous society from the human rights angle, it can be seen that it emphasizes the guarantee of the right to subsistence. The Report to the 12th National Congress of the CPC proposed that the gross output value of national industry and agriculture should have quadrupled, the income of the urban and rural people should have grown exponentially so that “the people’s material and culture life can reach the moderately prosperous level” at the end of the 20th century.52
 
Meanwhile, the CPC Central Committee and the state definitely realized that the guarantee for the right to subsistence could be better enhanced by ensuring the right of the people to participate in, promote and enjoy development. The communiqué issued at the Third Plenary Session of 11th CPC Central Committee stated that we should “let local governments and industrial and agricultural enterprises have more decisionmaking power in operation and management under the guidance of the national unified plan,” “fully motivate the enthusiasm of the cadres and labourers for production,” “give full play to the initiative, enthusiasm and creativity of the departments of the central government, the local governments, enterprises and labourers,” “first motivate the enthusiasm of several thousand million farmers in China, fully care for their material interests in the economic aspect, politically ensure their democratic rights,” “especially emphasize democracy and the dialectical unification relation of democracy and centralization in the current period.”53
 
Second, the enhancement of the guarantee for the right to subsistence created better conditions and put forward high requirements for implementation of the right to development. As people’s lives generally improved from a life state with adequate food and clothing to an affluent life state, the report to the 16th National Congress of the CPC in 2002 proposed the goal of “building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects”: stating the goal of building a higher-level moderately prosperous society in the first 20 years of the 21st century and letting “the people become better off.” The goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects not only included the enhancement of the guarantee for the right to subsistence, but also included the enhancement of the guarantee for the right to development as a means and the right to development as a purpose. In the guarantee aspect of the right to subsistence, the proposed goal included letting people live more affluent lives letting the people live and work in peace and contentment, improving the socialist legal system, ensuring good social order, building a relatively sound social security system, developing a relatively perfect nationwide fitness, medical treatment and public health system, and improving the ecological environment. In the aspect of ensuring the right to equally participate in, promote and enjoy development, the proposed goal included gradually reversing the difference between industry and agriculture and the gaps between urban and rural areas, achieving more sufficient employment, further improving the socialist democracy and grassroots democracy, letting the people have opportunities to receive a good education, basically popularizing senior secondary education, eliminating illiteracy, forming a relatively perfect modern national education system and establishing a scientific, technological and cultural innovation system. In the implementation aspect of the right to personal self-development, the proposed goal included “significantly improving the nationwide ideological and ethical quality, scientific and cultural quality and health quality”, “form a lifelong learning society in which all people learn, promote all-round development of people” and “constantly strengthen the sustainable development ability.”54
 
Third, the guarantee for the right to subsistence promotes the guarantee for the right to development, and higher requirements are put forward for the guarantee for the right to subsistence in return. In 2012, the 18th National Congress of the CPC further proposed higher requirements for realizing a moderately prosperous society. In the guarantee aspect of the right to subsistence, the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects included doubling the gross domestic product and the income per capita of urban and rural residents compared with their levels in 2010, obvious enhancement of the quality of urbanization, significant progress in the new socialist countryside construction, a remarkable decrease in the number of people living below the poverty line, full coverage of social security, basic medical care and health services for all, completion of a basic housing guarantee system, a stable and harmonious society, all-round improvement of the people’s living standards, better stability of the ecological system, and an obvious improvement of the living environment. The goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects greatly enhanced the level of the guarantees for the rights to subsistence and development. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, 98.99 million rural poor have got rid of poverty, all the poor counties in the country have shaken off poverty and absolute poverty has been eradicated in China. In 2020, China’s per capita disposable income was RMB32,189, the median was RMB27,540; the per capita disposable income of all the urban residents was RMB 43,834, the median was RMB 40,378; the per capita disposable income of all the rural residents was RMB 17,131, the median was RMB 15,204. The Engel coefficient of the Chinese residents was 30.2 percent. The Engel coefficient of the urban residents was 29.2 percent and the Engel coefficient of rural residents was 32.7 percent. At the end of 2020, 456.38 million people have participated in the basic old-age insurance for urban employees, 542.44 million people have participated in the basic old-age insurance for urban and rural residents and 1.36 billion people have participated in the basic medical insurance in China.55
 
With the guarantee level for the right to subsistence at an unprecedentedly high level, higher requirements have been put forward for the implementation of the right to development. In the aspect of the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development, the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects includes more people employed, a reduction in the income distribution inequality, a better democratic system, more democratic forms, greater self-motivation, enthusiasm, proactiveness, creativity and innovation of the people, and basically completed education modernization. In regard to the aspect of the right to personal self-development, the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects included enhancement of people’s education levels, a remarkable rise in the cultivation of creative talent, in order to make the country a leading global talent and human resources power.56 Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, China has granted priority to its employment strategy, vigorously supported startups, removed the barriers stopping private enterprises from participating in economic activities, improved the people’s congress system, promoted the consultative democracy system, ensured the right to know, the right to be heard, the right to participate and the right of citizens to oversee, and established and improved the social governance pattern with diversified participants. China has also urged social organizations to participate in social work, deepened the public cultural system reform, improved the public culture service system, reformed the system for science and technology, stimulated its independent innovation vitality, deeply reformed the household registration system, protected freedom of movement, established efficient ubiquitous information networks, improved the modern integrated transport system and popularized high-quality education. 
 
As all the targets of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects are being achieved one by one, China is starting a new journey — to comprehensively build a modern socialist country. Based on the valuable experiences learned from the process of building a moderately prosperous society, China still needs to continue taking the comprehensive free and harmonious development of all the people as the ultimate goal and strive to achieve the virtuous cycle and interaction of the guarantee of the rights to subsistence and development at a higher level. To this end, the relationship between the right to subsistence and the right to development need to be handled properly in the following four aspects.
 
First, the guarantee for the right to subsistence must be the fundamental basis for the virtuous cycle and interaction between the guarantee for the right to subsistence and the guarantee for the right to development. Based on the guarantee level of the right to subsistence consolidated in the attainment of a moderately prosperous society, the guarantee for the right to subsistence should be constantly promoted by means of economic and social development to ensure that the economic development results practically improve the guarantee of the right to subsistence. 
 
Second, the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development should be the intermediary for the virtuous cycle and interaction between the guarantee of the right to subsistence and the guarantee of the right to development. On the one hand, impetus and the conditions for enhancing the guarantee for the right to subsistence should be created by ensuring the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development. On the other hand, personal self-development should be promoted by enhancing the guarantee for the right to participate in, promote and enjoy development. 
 
Third, personal self-development should be the ultimate goal of the virtuous cycle and interaction between the guarantee of the right to subsistence and the guarantee of the right to development. Economic development should be the purpose and means for personal development. 
 
Fourth, free, all-round and harmonious development of all the people should be a necessary constraint on the virtuous cycle and interaction between the guarantee for the right to subsistence and the guarantee for the right to development. On the one hand, everyone’s right to free and all-round development should be respected and people should be prevented from being used as tools for development and prevent development from being a means to enslave and oppress people. On the other hand, every person should enjoy opportunities and conditions for development and share the fruits of development. A reasonable mechanism should be established to ensure that everyone’s free and all-round development will become a condition for the free and all-round development of all the others and prevent the development of some people from harming the development of others. 
 
The history of the modern Chinese human rights development has shown that the leadership of the CPC — a powerful political organization that transcends the interests of all social groups — is necessary to achieve the interactive virtuous cycle between the guarantee of the right to subsistence and the guarantee of the right to development. This has been proved by the 100-year history of the CPC. Led by the CPC, the Chinese people have constantly strengthened the guarantees for the rights to subsistence and development and promoted all-round development and will continue to do so in the building a modern socialist country. 
 
(Translated by LIU Zhao)
 
* MA Yuan ( 马原 ), Professional Researcher of the Human Rights Research Center, the National Human Rights Education and Training Base, and Lecturer of Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University. 
 
** CHANG Jian ( 常健 ), Director of the Human Rights Research Center, the National Human Rights Education and Training Base, and Professor and Doctoral Advisor of Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University. This paper is a periodic result of both the research project of China Society for Human Rights Studies “Research on Modern Chinese View on Human Rights” and the national planned social science project “Research on Grassroots Political Stability and Its Risk Control” (19BZZ048).
 
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