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Thursday, March 02, 2000, updated at 09:09(GMT+8)


China Urges International Cooperation on Human Rights Issue

The Chinese government and people are ready to work alongside the people in other Asia-Pacific countries and in the rest of the world to promote the human rights cause as well as peace and development in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen made the remarks on Wednesday at the opening session of the Eighth Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region, which runs through Friday.

Qian said that the Chinese nation has always held man's dignity and value in respect and the immense energy China today radiates is a vivid reflection of the broad scope in which the Chinese people give free and democratic play to their creativity. As China is a developing country with a population of nearly 1.3 billion, to realize the people's right to subsistence and development represents a fervent desire of the Chinese people and an objective of the Chinese government, Qian said.

Meanwhile, China has been working hard to build up democracy and the legal system. "our goal is to run the country according to law and build China into a socialist country under the rule of law," he said.

Qian noted the fact that the Asia-Pacific countries boast a time-honored history and cultural traditions that have many positive elements on respect for human rights, and that although the positions and views of these countries on the question of human rights are not exactly the same, what they share obviously outweigh their differences.

"As close neighbors, we know better than others the history and cultural traditions of the people and the realities of the countries in the region," he said, adding that the Asia-Pacific countries have every reason to step up their cooperation on human rights.

Given the fact that in the 20th century, economic crises have occurred in other regions and that the causes for the financial crisis are extremely complex, it is obviously unfair to lay the blame on cultures or values alone for the crisis, Qian said.

"As the Asian economy is now already on the way to recovery, we are convinced that the people in Asia, with their pioneering spirit, will be able to overcome many difficulties lying ahead and march forward courageously," he said, adding that they have every reason to keep up their fine cultures and values and promote the all-round development of human rights while attaining economic growth.

Qian said that countries have different national conditions, therefore it is only natural that they have differences in their approach to the promotion and protection of human rights. "These differences should be handled properly through dialogue and exchanges on the basis of equality."

The vast majority of the Asia-Pacific countries had in modern times the agonizing experience of being bullied by imperialist powers and hence cherish all the more their sovereignty and national dignity, the Chinese vice-premier said.

Moreover, the Asia-Pacific countries have recently stood out as a major international advocate for dialogue and exchanges, and the workshop is a concrete demonstration of such a spirit of cooperation based on equality.

He stressed that the Asia-Pacific countries should strengthen common action to realize the economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.

He said that democracy and the rule of law are no country's monopoly and they do not come under a unified model in the world. To learn from other countries' experience is not to copy it mechanically, and only when appropriate measures suited to the local conditions are adopted in light of a country's specific characteristics and the needs of the people, can democracy be effectively broadened and improved and the rule of law be promoted and strengthened.

"Universality does not mean blind identity. Every measure that serves to promote and protect human rights effectively and every institution or plan that proves to be truly operative should be encouraged and endorsed," he noted.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said on the occasion that the forum plays a significant role in strengthening cooperation on human rights issue among the Asia-Pacific countries.

Representatives from more than 40 countries attended the forum.

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