U.S. urged to stop acting as "preacher" of human rights

08:09, April 12, 2011      

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The United States should stop its hegemonic practice of portraying itself as a human rights "preacher" and using human rights issues to interfere in other nations' internal affairs, Chinese experts say.

In its annual report on human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions, which was released on Friday, the United States claimed that a "negative" trend in China's human rights record continued, an accusation that Chinese experts categorically refuted.

The U.S. began issuing such human rights reports as part of its efforts to initiate "human rights diplomacy" starting with the Carter administration in the 1970s, said Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University.

"The report highlights the interests and values of the U.S. and represents a rude interference in other nations' internal affairs by an advantaged superpower," he said.

As a retort to the U.S. criticism of its human rights status, China on Sunday published a document illustrating a dismal record of human rights in the U.S., including violations of its citizens' rights, racial discrimination, poverty and international human rights violations, among other problems.

Saying that the U.S. reports are "full of distortions and accusations," the China document states that "the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own terrible rights situation and seldom mentioned it."

Hong Lei, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said on Saturday that China and the U.S. have disagreements on human rights issues and that China is willing to engage in dialogues about these issues based on equality and mutual respect.

"But we are firmly against interfering in our internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues," Hong said.

Liu Jie, a researcher on human rights at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said that the U.S. claims regarding China's human rights are "groundless."

Outsiders should view the remarkable progress that China has achieved over the years in the promotion and development of human rights objectively, Liu said.

In April 2009, China published the National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2010), its first working plan on human rights, which listed goals slated for implementation in less than two years.

This action made China one of 26 countries since 1993 that have responded to the United Nations' call to establish a national human rights plan. .

"The realization of human rights in the broadest sense has been a long-cherished ideal of mankind and also a long-sought goal of the Chinese government and people," the plan document stated.

China plans to continue to "raise the level of ensuring people's civil and political rights" through improving democracy and the rule of law, the document said.

The achievement of most of the pre-set goals in the action plan has gone "much better than expected," Liu, who is familiar with the action plan, told Xinhua. "This serves as a good example to show China's achievements in safeguarding and promoting human rights."

Ban Wenzhan, a human rights expert and professor with the China University of Political Science and Law, said that China's establishment of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics will also facilitate the protection and promotion of human rights.

In March, top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo hailed the formation of such a system of laws as a "major milestone" in the history of the development of the country's socialist democratic legal system.

By the end of 2010, China had enacted 236 laws, over 690 administrative regulations and more than 8,600 local statutes that are now in force, according to authorities.

Citing examples, Ban said that the food security law and social insurance law, adopted in 2009 and 2010, respectively, will offer legal protection for people's health and safety, as well as ensure their access to social aid.

In February, China adopted its newly revised Criminal Law, which reduced the number of crimes punishable by death by 13 to 55, a move which, Ban said, demonstrated an effort to respect life and protect human rights.

It was the first time the People's Republic of China has reduced the number of crimes subject to the death penalty since the Criminal Law took effect in 1979.

Ban said that the ruling Communist Party of China and the Chinese central government have continued to work for the promotion and development of human rights, especially since China initiated the policy of opening up and reform some three decades ago.

From cutting poverty through economic growth, to emergency relief efforts during major earthquakes and landslides in recent years, and to the evacuation of Chinese nationals from recent unrest in Libya, the moves have shown China's resolve and efforts to protect human rights, Ban said.

Further, statistics show that the portion of China's population living in poverty has decreased by more than 230 million since 1978, which accounts for some 75 percent of the total reduction in the number of poor people in developing countries.

China's life expectancy has also climbed to 73 years, five years higher than it was 30 years ago.

Historically, the promotion and development of human rights is a process, Ban said. "Any nation, in certain stages of its development, could face some certain circumstances that may constitute restrictions over the country's development of its human rights status."

People should assess the achievements and challenges of China's human rights development objectively and from a historical perspective, Liu said. "China can handle its human rights issues well, based upon the country's conditions and realities."

Source: Xinhua
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