•In addition, the Chinese government promises to stay fully committed to its people-centered approach, and exert itself to meet the people’s growing expectations for human rights protection.
•China has made the greatest contribution to human rights by bringing over 800 million people out of poverty in 40 years.
There are many myths that have done the rounds about the Chinese nation.
For lack of the correct awareness, information and knowledge about the country, people have been lied to for years on several issues of governance in the country. One such area that misinformation has thrived is the issue of human rights.
But the truth has been very different, which has necessitated the government to document and publish both past and current work on human rights in the country. According to a new report “Human Rights Action Plan of China (2021-2025)” released this month, China has formulated and implemented three action plans on human rights since 2009.
The report rightly notes that China’s socio-economic progress has been commensurate to the country’s human rights track record both at a national and international level. Indeed, the next phase of human rights as contained in the report is in tandem with the five-year period from 2021 to 2025 in which China has set out on a new journey towards the Second Centenary Goal of building a modern socialist country.
Indeed, as China’s economy decisively moves to a stage of high-quality development, it now has more favourable conditions to advance the cause of human rights. In addition, the principal challenge facing Chinese society today is the gap between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing expectation for a better life.
The new Action Plan adheres to the constitutional principle of respecting and protecting human rights, and the Outline for the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.
It follows the spirit embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights conventions. It also takes into consideration the new challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic which has necessitated reviewing of what had always been taken for granted around the world.
The report has seven core sections which set the new human rights journey for China as summarised below:
- Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - China will work to promote common prosperity for its people and protect their economic, social and cultural rights through various measures including consolidating its achievements in poverty alleviation, rural revitalization and prioritising employment.
- Civil and Political Rights – Among other measures, China will expand the space for citizens’ independent participation and free development, improve systems for protecting personal rights, personal information rights, property rights and right to freedom of religious beliefs.
- Environmental Rights - China will implement strategies of sustainable development, follow the general principle of reducing pollution and carbon emission, and promote green development among others.
- Protecting the Rights of Particular Groups - China will continue to ensure equal rights for ethnic minority groups, women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other disadvantaged groups and improve their special protection.
- Education and Research on Human Rights - China will include human rights education in the national education curriculum, conduct human rights research, strengthen human rights training, and popularise understanding of human rights.
- Participating in Global Human Rights Governance - China will fulfill its commitments to the international community with sincerity. It will engage in international human rights affairs, and lobby for and work toward a better global human rights governance system.
- Implementation, Supervision and Assessment - China will ensure the implementation of the Action Plan in all fields and at different levels by improving its joint meeting mechanism, strengthening implementation and supervision, and completing the third-party assessment mechanism.
Basically, the comprehensive plan follows several tenets already contained in previous guidelines and strategies. One of the main anchors of the Action Plan is President Xi Jinping’s guidance contained in his book Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
The overarching goal entails promoting the free, well-rounded and common development of all individuals. In addition, the Chinese government promises to stay fully committed to its people-centered approach, and exert itself to meet the people’s growing expectations for human rights protection.
It will also guarantee the principal position of the people, and ensure that development is for the people and relies on the people, and that development benefits are shared by the people.
Beyond the confines of documented human rights strategies, China has made great strides in its efforts to create a common destiny for humankind. This was aptly summarised a few months ago in a tweet by Fiona Edwards posted on the #BlackLivesMatter about the difference between Marxism and capitalism - as obviously espoused by China and the U.S. respectively.
“China is the world’s biggest exporter of Covid-19 vaccines, the biggest investor in renewables and has made the greatest contribution to human rights by bringing over 800 million people out of poverty in 40 years. The US leads in waging wars, organising coups and military spending.”
The writer is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi based research and development communication think tank.