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Monday, April 09, 2001, updated at 21:18(GMT+8)

China Issues White Paper on Human Rights

The Information Office of the State Council issued Monday, April 9, a white paper on human rights, elaborating the achievements China scored in its human rights cause during the past year.

The white paper, entitled "Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 2000", says that the year 2000 marked a milestone in China's march to modernization, as the country witnessed both sound economic performance and continued advance in its human rights cause.

In 2000, implementation of the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development was successfully completed, the development of the western region got off to a good start, the economy developed in a healthy way, democracy and the legal system were continuously strengthened, and the human rights situation maintained a good momentum of development.

The white paper says that the Chinese government continued to improve people's access to subsistence and development by developing the economy and enhancing the comprehensive national strength.

China rid itself completely of the influence of the Asian financial crisis in 2000 as its national economy growth rate apparently increased. The gross domestic product (GDP) of China surpassed US$1000 billion for the first time, reaching 8, 940.4 billion yuan. The GDP per capita exceeded US$800, a symbol of realizing the second-step strategic goal set for China 's modernization drive.

The white paper notes that the income of urban and rural residents has gone up steadily, and their standards of living have continued to improve. People across the country as a whole are living a relatively well-off life.

The Engel's coefficient, indicating the proportion of food expenditure in the total consumption expenditures, was about 40 percent for urban residents and about 50 percent for rural residents last year, down nearly 10 percentage points and 8 percentage points respectively over those of 1995. The decrease shows that the life quality of people is further upgraded.

While improving the people's living standards across the board, the Chinese government has attached great importance to ensuring that people from poverty-stricken areas have enough to eat and wear, says the white paper.

A systematic and large-scale poverty elimination drive initiated by the Chinese government has been going on since China started reform and opening up to the outside world in the late 1970s.

The rate of those in poverty among rural people has dropped to around 3 percent from 30.7 percent in 1978, forming a sharp contrast with the increase of absolutely poverty-stricken population in the rest of the world.

The United Nations Development Program holds that China's aid- the-poor efforts in a development-oriented way have provided a model for other developing countries, and even for the whole world.

On the guarantee of citizens' political rights, the white paper notes that the system of people's congress is a fundamental political system in China, in which all power in China belongs to the people and the people exercise State power through the National People's Congress (NPC) and the local people's congresses.

At the Fourth Session of the Ninth NPC held in March, 2001, the deputies put forward 1,040 proposals, a record high since 1983 when the first session of the Sixth NPC was convened.

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body of the Chinese government, actively participated in the deliberation and administration of State affairs in 2000. The CPPCC National Committee submitted more than 10 reports to the decision-makers on mapping out the Tenth Five- Year Plan (2001-2005). It also raised many opinions and suggestions, which served as important reference, on issues such as speeding up the project of diverting water from the south to the north, perfecting the social security system, and further reform of the judicial system.

The white paper says that building democratic politics at the grassroots level in rural China has been promoted in an all-round way and developed steadily.

The villagers' committees in 27 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities have been re-elected since the revised Organic Law of the Villagers' Committees was enforced in 1998. About 600 million farmers took part in the direct election of their village heads, accounting for a vote rate of more than 80 percent.

Meanwhile remarkable progress has been made in the building of democratic politics at the township level. The practice of making public the township political affairs has been promoted nationwide. About 35,000 townships, or over 80 percent of the total townships in China, have made public their political affairs.

On judicial guarantee for human rights, the white paper notes that China pays much attention to safeguarding human rights through perfecting legislation, ensuring an impartial judicature and strictly enforcing the law.

It says in 2000, the public security and judicial organs cracked down on gang-related crimes and crimes involving guns and explosives. They also punished, according to law, a handful of criminals who caused deaths or gathered people to upset the public order by organizing and using the "Falun Gong" cult, effectively safeguarding social stability and people's lives and property.

The Supreme People's Court formulated in July 2000 the Regulations on Providing Judicial Assistance for Litigants Actually in Financial Difficulty, in an effort to guarantee that poor people can exercise their legal litigation rights.

Litigants of more than 190,000 cases across country therefore were allowed to have their payment of litigation costs postponed, reduced or remitted.

The Chinese government made more efforts in 2000 to further protect the economic, social and cultural rights of citizens.

According to statistics, employees in China totaled more than 710 million by the end of 2000, an increase of 5.64 million over the previous year. China has basically established a social security system, mainly covering basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance and unemployment insurance for workers in cities and towns. China has virtually made nine-year compulsory education universal across the country, and eliminated illiteracy among people who were born since 1949.

The number of Internet users in China has skyrocketed to more than 22.5 million from 10,000 in 1994, when China joined the Internet network.

The white paper says that the number of women employed has grown continuously, women's education level has risen further and women's health improved, too.

In order to curb domestic violence, bigamy and taking concubines, perfect family property system and protect women's rights in marriage and the family, the NPC encouraged people of all walks of life to do research for a revision of the Marriage Law, and publicized the draft amendments in January, 2001 for public discussions.

Chinese children's rights are effectively protected as well. The child mortality rate dropped by one third and the rate of malnutrition among children fell by 50 percent over the 1990 figures.

A program for the safe and healthy development of Chinese children was launched in October, 2000, aimed at forging a healthy social climate for children, helping them stay away from dropout, disease, injury and crime.

The white paper notes that in China, ethnic minorities enjoy not only all citizens' rights entitled by the Constitution and laws as the Han people do, but also some special rights stipulated by laws for ethnic minorities.

The Standing Committee of the Ninth NPC made amendments to the Law Governing Regional Ethnic Autonomy in February, 2001, upgrading the system of regional ethnic autonomy as part of the basic political system of China. The white paper says that the decision further strengthened the legal guarantee of autonomy in the autonomous areas.

While implementing the system of regional ethnic autonomy, the central government assists the economic and social development of these areas by providing funds, technology, and professionals. The white paper notes that the GDP of the autonomous regions increased by 8.1 percent in 2000, surpassing that of the national average for the fourth consecutive year.

Besides, the State made effective efforts in supporting ethnic minority areas in developing education, ensuring the ethnic minorities can use and develop their own languages, respecting and protecting their religious beliefs, traditional customs and cultures.

The campaign of developing the west where ethnic minorities are concentrated will forcefully promote economic and social development in these areas and the full realization of the equal rights of ethnic minorities.

The white paper says that the Chinese government always respects the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations for promoting and protecting human rights, supports the UN efforts in this regard and actively participates in the UN activities in the realm of human rights.

The Ninth NPC Standing Committee ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in February, 2001. The white paper says this fully demonstrates the Chinese government's positive attitude toward carrying out international cooperation in human rights as well as China's firm determination and confidence in promoting and protecting human rights.

The white paper notes in the end that the progress of human rights is an important aspect of the social development of all countries. It is a historical process of continuous advance.

In the light of China's national conditions and according to people's wishes, and with the aim of building a democratic, modernized country with advanced culture and under the rule of law, the Chinese government will accelerate development and continuously push forward the development of human rights cause in China while maintaining social stability.

The 14,000-word white paper consists of seven parts, namely, the improvement of the people's rights to subsistence and development; the guarantee of citizens' political rights; judicial guarantee for human rights; the economic, social and cultural rights of citizens; protection of women and children's rights; equal rights and special protection for ethnic minorities; and actively carrying out international exchanges and cooperation in the realm of human rights.

In This Section

The Information Office of the State Council issued Monday, April 9, a white paper on human rights, elaborating the achievements China scored in its human rights cause during the past year.

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