Human rights dialogues need mutual understanding

15:30, May 04, 2011      

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The China-U.S. human rights talks held in Beijing from April 27 to 28 have attracted wide attention. Human rights reflect the respect for human dignity and values. It is not surprising that various countries have differences on human rights issues because of the differences in social systems and their historical and cultural development.

However, some Western countries have failed to abandon the "Cold War" mentality. They divide countries by ideology and use so-called human rights issues to suppress and vilify developing countries. This has resulted in conflicts in the international human rights arena and serious political confrontations. In order to promote the healthy development of international cooperation on human rights, China first proposed the human rights talks in the 1990s, and the international community has gradually accepted this idea.

A dialogue should be interactive and a two-way communication, exchange and understanding rather than a one-way indoctrination, oppression or even interference. The two parties engaging in dialogue have fully equal status rather than a relationship between teacher and student. Therefore, neither party is eligible to be the teacher. In addition, since it is a dialogue between countries, it should be implemented under the framework of the "Charter of the United Nations" and follow the spirit of the respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs that is formulated by the charter.

Therefore, equality and mutual respect should also be the principles of the international human rights dialogue and the premise for China to launch talks with other countries. Based on this premise, China launched the human rights talks with the United States in 1990. Afterwards, China also launched human rights dialogues or consultations with nearly 20 countries and organizations, such as Britain, Germany, the European Union, Russia, Australia and Cuba. The human rights talks include both Western countries and developing countries, and the achievements of human rights dialogues are obvious.

The human rights talks have enhanced mutual understanding. It is difficult for people from various countries who have different beliefs and culture to fully understand each other's ideas, thoughts and actions. This will inevitably lead to misunderstandings and misjudgments, particularly in the complicated and sensitive field of human rights. The talks have established communications channels and reduced rumors and presumptions. Each side has set forth its own beliefs, positions and practice related to human rights, frankly exchanged views, improved understanding and found increasingly common grounds. This is significant to address the disagreements between two countries and advance bilateral ties. Some foreign human rights representatives often said upon the conclusion of the talks that the situation of human rights in China is not bad and the related achievements accomplished by China are clearly evident. China has overtaken developed countries in many respects of human rights practice and China's human rights situation is absolutely not as awful as some Western media agencies have reported.

The human rights talks have advanced human rights progress. The human rights situation in any country is imperfect and the human rights practices of any country surely have their own merits. Chinese units participating in the human rights talks and technical cooperation projects in the field of human rights generally involve government departments of diplomacy, the police, prosecution, judiciary and religion as well as academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

Both sides have conducted face-to-face exchanges in terms of successful human rights protection methods, jointly discussed existing issues and learned from each other in order to further advance the development of their own human rights cause. It is known that China has referred to foreign experience before launching the ongoing community correction program and foreign countries have also followed some of China's human rights protection methods. China has come to develop human rights ideas and practice methods with Chinese characteristics based on its domestic context and experience of other countries during recent years. This has undoubtedly enriched human rights protection theories and practice and should partly be attributed to China's proactive human rights talks with other countries.

The human rights talks have shown China's posture of openness. China calls for advancing human rights cooperation through talks, which itself is a contribution to the international human rights cause. The constructive talks with other countries have displayed China’s attitude of openness in terms of the human rights issue.

Communication, exchanges and on-site visits have also made some Western media agencies and organizations that hold stereotyped views about China aware that protecting human rights relies on not only what a country has said but also what a country has done. Certain countries highly advocate human rights while arbitrarily violating the sovereignty of other countries, causing humanitarian disasters and frequent human rights scandals. China has always been open and pragmatic to advance human rights in the process of development, so its people's political, economic and social rights have improved remarkably. It is not difficult to tell which way is better.

However, just as rainbows appear only after the wind and rain, the human rights talks are not always a smooth process. Although the Cold War has been over for about 20 years, certain Westerners are still trapped in the Cold War mindset, and often unrealistically demand China to solve a bunch of non-existent problems in hopes of forcing China to make concessions or even to change its political system. To their disappointment, all such efforts are destined to be in vain because neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese people will compromise on principles. China's development pattern should depend on the Chinese people, and foreign countries should not interfere. The Chinese people will never allow anyone to damage the interests of their country.

Some people claimed that the human rights talks with China have only limited success, so the value of such dialogues should be re-evaluated. However, if viewed from a different perspective, the "limited success" proves that China has always adhered to its principles when carrying out the dialogues on human rights. If the success of human rights talks were only measured by whether China accepted the "instructions" from Western countries and changed its political system, the talks would only cause tension and end in deadlock. In fact, forcing other countries to do things against their will is undemocratic and is in violation of human rights. Dialogues and interaction should benefit both sides, and China will never surrender to unreasonable and unrealistic demands from foreign countries.

Exerting pressure on other countries in the name of human rights, politicizing the issue of human rights and adopting double standards have become more and more unpopular. The international human rights situation shows that dialogues and cooperation have become an irreversible trend.

By People's Daily Online
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