Where Westerners Stray in Their Exploration of China's Human Rights
October 14,2014   By:CSHRS

Dong Yunhu

Respecting and protecting human rights is an important fruit of the progress of human society and a significant landmark for a modern civil society. It is a common pursuit for people throughout the world and a long, sublime goal for the Chinese government and its people. Since the reform and opening up initiated in 1978, China has made unprecedented progress in both its human rights cause and modernization drive.

1. The ideas and legal policies of human rights go mainstream. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have achieved a major shift in understanding human rights: from criticizing human rights, to being afraid to talk about human rights, and finally to respecting and protecting human rights as a principle of ruling and administering the country. Especially in recent years, China has put forward the people-first scientific outlook of development and a major strategy of constructing a harmonious socialist society. The principle of respecting and protecting human rights has gone down in China's Constitution, its 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-2012) and the CPC Constitution. In 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao mentioned in his report at the Seventeenth Party Congress, "We must respect and safeguard human rights, and ensure the equal right to participation and development for all members of society in accordance with the law," ensure that all our people enjoy their rights to education, employment, medical and old-age care, and housing, guarantee the people's rights to be informed, to participate, to be heard, and to oversee. In 2008, Hu Jintao addressed the China Society for Human Rights Studies at the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, calling on us to further deepen international cooperation in human rights, work together with the rest of the world to promote a healthy development of the world's human rights cause, make due contribution to a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. In 2009, the Chinese government issued its first National Action Plan on Human Rights (2009-2010), making a detailed plan for its human rights cause in the next two years. This move made China the first among the largest countries to draw up a plan for human rights cause. It is safe to say that respecting and protecting human rights has become an important theme for China's national construction, social development and foreign cooperation.

2. China has found a path suited to its conditions in terms of its human rights cause. That is: to proceed from China's conditions, adhere to the principle of putting people first, give priority to people's rights to subsistence and development, and to promote a comprehensive coordinated development of civil, political rights in relation to economic, social and cultural rights, and of individual and collective rights, in the backdrop of positive interaction of reform, development and stability.