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Wang Chen: China registers historic progress in human rights (3)
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13:23, December 09, 2008

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Q. As you are the head of the State Council Information Office, could you tell us the functions of your unit and what is the role the office has played in human rights?

A. Our office was founded in 1991. The functions of our office can be summarized as "letting the world know about China and making China known in the world." To tell the world about China includes not only explanations about China's domestic and foreign policies, China's history, culture and political, economic and social development but also revelation of the truth and China's stands and views on some major issues on which there are a lot of misunderstandings, deep biases and accusations in other countries so as to remove doubts and enhance understanding and create a good international context for China's peaceful development. The human rights issue, for instance, is an area in which the outside world has known little about China and there are many misunderstandings. So it is a very important part of the work of our office to present the fact and views of China on human rights. In the recent two decades, we have done the following work with regard to human rights:

--- Expounding China's views, advocacies and practice with regard to human rights, telling the world the unremitting efforts made by the Chinese government and people in promoting human rights and the resulting achievements so as to help the international community to know more about the true human rights conditions in China. Toward the end of the 1980s and at the beginning of the 1990s, some international antagonistic forces, out of different ideologies and social systems, launched an anti-China wave, spearheading human rights attacks against China. To tell the world about the true human rights conditions in China and its basic stand and policies, our office issued the first white paper on human rights Human Rights in China. After that, our office has issued seven white papers to give an account of the general situation of human rights in China. In addition, it has issued more than 30 white papers and dozens of important articles on such topics as democracy, criminals' transformation, women and children, population and family planning, poverty relief, labor and social security, ethnic minorities and religion, and the rule of law, all of which are closely associated with human rights and are of international concern. These white papers and articles have given a complete and systematic picture of the human rights conditions in China, summed up its basic experience in human rights development, completely and authoritatively expounded the basic views of the Chinese government on human rights issues. They have played an important role in helping the international community get a complete and true picture of China's human rights conditions, in giving the lies to the distortions and accusations by international antagonistic forces and in clearing up the misunderstanding about China's human rights. These documents have won favorable comments from the international opinion. It is generally believed that China's active stance to clear about issues concerning human rights by way of issuing white papers has "increased the openness and transparency of the government," "enhanced the understanding of the international community on China's human rights conditions and made the international community see the progress China has made in human rights and know the endeavors made by the Chinese government toward improvement of human rights."

--- Refuting unfounded accusations against China's human rights conditions by the US Department of State in its "Country Report on Human Rights" and safeguarding China's state sovereignty and national dignity. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with some other Western countries, has been repeatedly mooted anti-China bills in the UN Human Rights Commission and issued its annual "Country Report on Human Rights" to distort and accuse China of its human rights conditions. Starting from 1994, our office has issued more than 10 weighty commentaries against the attacks by the U.S. Department of State in its "Country Report on Human Rights" by presenting solid facts to lay bare the true intentions of the United States in carrying out its anti-China and anti-Communist and hegemonic strategies on the pretext of human rights. These commentaries have caused strong favorable reactions from the international community. From 2000 to the present, in countering the distortion and accusation by the United States by way of paying back in its own coin, so to speak, we have issued the Human Rights Record of the United States for eight years running, using a lot of data and facts to expose the bad human rights records of the United States and its double standards on human rights. The move has been extensively echoed in the world. Some foreign media described these articles as "like a sharp sword, pointing directly at the tender point of the United States." Some developing countries said that China has voiced what the developing countries wanted to say. Mass media of some developing countries appealed to their ruling authorities "not to keep silent anymore and to learn from China to give response to the U.S. 'Country Report on Human Rights' and safeguard national dignity."

--- Holding exhibitions to demonstrate the human rights conditions of China and its unique path concerning human rights development. In November 2006, our office and the China Society for Human Rights Studies held a "China Human Rights Exhibition" at the Beijing Cultural Palace of Nationalities. From July to October 2007, the two units held photo exhibitions "Contemporary Chinese Life through the Lens" in India, Nepal, Austria, Italy, Egypt and Uzbekistan. A theme exhibition "Chinese People's Life through the Lens" was also held at the Beijing Cultural Palace of Nationalities during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The "China's Human Rights Exhibition" was the first of its kind in the world. It exhibited more than 700 photos and more than 250 objects, more than 1,000 titles of books on human rights, 24 tables and charts. These, plus situational models, video and film shows, electronic calendars, electronic white papers, internet interaction, touch-screen Q&A and on-the-spot demonstration of folk arts, have visualized and specified the abstract concept of human rights and artistically reproduced the glorious course traversed by the Chinese people in fighting for, safeguarding and developing human rights and the great achievements they have scored. They have also systematically displayed the policies and laws of China in protecting human rights, giving a complete picture of China's human rights conditions and progress at all levels, from all perspectives and in all aspects. They served as an important information platform for Chinese and foreign visitors to get an objective and complete picture of China's human rights. Many foreign media described the exhibition as "having reflected the progress and openness of China" and "very useful for the international community to know about China's human rights."

--- Spreading knowledge about human rights to heighten the awareness of the people so as to stimulate an all-round development of the human rights cause. Over the years, we have offered human rights lectures that lasted for several months over the Central People's Broadcasting Station, started a Q&A column on human rights in the People's Daily that lasted for a year, sponsored a human rights knowledge quiz in the Guangming Daily, organized the compilation of the "Human Rights Reader for Officials," which has been made part of the teaching materials for cadre training in the country and organized training courses of all kinds for human rights cadres. These activities have not only helped heighten the awareness about human rights on the part of officials and common people but also enhanced their consciousness in respecting and safeguarding human rights, thus expanding the social foundation for safeguarding and protecting human rights. At the same time, we have taken the lead in organizing the formulation of "National Human Rights Program of Action," aimed at bringing about a complete and orderly development of human rights in China. That is China's first national program of action in the area of human rights, which has mapped out plans for human rights development for the next two years. It is an important move of the Chinese government in implementing the constitutional principle of "respecting and protecting human rights" and the "people first" scientific development theory. The program covers such areas as government functions, extension of democracy, law and order, people's livelihood, protection of the special rights of women, children and the ethnic minorities and the raising of awareness about human rights in the whole society. By setting and implementing the goals and measures in a systematic way, it will surely help improve the human rights conditions in China and make progress in this regard.
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