Constructing an Environment for Sustainable Human Rights Development
--Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Sixth Beijing Forum on Human Rights
Cai Mingzhao, Minister of the Information Office of the State Council of the PRC
September 12, 2013
Honorable Vice-chairman Wan Exiang, President Luo Haocai and Chairman Huang Mengfu,
Ladies, gentlemen and friends,
Today, we are gathered to welcome the opening of the Sixth Beijing Forum on Human Rights, which is co-sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the China Foundation for Human Rights Development. Undoubtedly it is of positive significance that human rights experts and scholars in the international human rights field from many countries in the world have assembled together in this golden season to plan human rights development. On behalf of the State Council Information Office of China, I would like to express warm congratulations to the opening of this forum, and sincere welcome to friends in attendance.
The full enjoyment of human rights is a common pursuit of mankind. For long, people of all countries have made unremitting efforts and thus important progress in striving for human rights, but it is still a long run to reach the sublime goal of full enjoyment of human rights. This session of the Forum is themed with the “construction of environment for sustainable human rights development”. With abundant contents and profound meanings, this theme especially deserves our deep speculation and research. Human rights development is closely related to the development of the country and society involved, and the sustainable development of the country and society is the foundation of sustainable human rights development. How to construct the environment for sustainable human rights development has become an important subject for the governments of all countries today.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The CPC and all levels of governmental departments of China has not only resolved to respect and guarantee human rights, but put it into practice. Both the CPC and the Chinese government view the respect and protection of human rights as an important principle in governing the country, combine the principle of universality of human rights with the reality in China, and in reference to the situation of China, give priority to the guarantee of the people’s rights to subsistence and development. For years, China has adhered to economic construction as a central task, and combined the cause of human rights development with economic construction, political construction, cultural construction, social construction and ecological civilization construction, trying hard for the all-round, harmonious and sustainable development. In doing so, it has found a path of human rights development suitable to the situation of China, and the levels of human rights protection have been constantly upgraded.
For economic construction, China engages in economic development to boost employment both in urban and rural areas, increase residents’ incomes and households’ property incomes, and improve people’s living conditions, involving their basic everyday needs. By doing so, it has protected the rights and interest of the disadvantaged groups, and practically guaranteed the citizens’ economic rights. Here, I have a set of data as evidence. In 2012, the proportion of China’s GDP to the world increased from 1.89% (by the exchange rate of US dollars) in 1980 to 11.57%, and its per capita GDP grew up from 205 US dollars (by the exchange rate of US dollars) to 6,064, with an increase nearly 30 times. In comparison, the proportion of population in poverty decreased from 84% in 1980 to 13% in 2012.
For political construction, China insists on actively and properly pushing forward its political structure reform, spreading socialist democracy, and speeding up the construction of a socialist country of governance by law. China has strived for improving its democratic system, enriching its democratic forms, extending the citizens’ orderly participation in politics, and guaranteeing the citizens’ exercise of democratic rights by law. Meanwhile, it has constantly deepened the reform of its political system, boosted the reform of its judicial system and work mechanism, and guaranteed the people’s enjoyment of extensive rights and freedom by law. At the end of 2012, more than 98% village committees all over the country realized direct selection, and villagers’ average participation reached 95%. By the end of 2012, Chinese has formulated the current constitution and 242 valid laws, 721 administrative rules and regulations, and 9,200 local regulations. A socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics has been formed. That is an important mark for the cause of human rights development in China, and the protection of human rights in China has been legalized.
For cultural construction, China continues to deepen the reform of its cultural system, emancipate and develop cultural productive forces, activate the cultural creativity of the whole nation. As a result, it has unprecedentedly improved the citizens’ rights to enjoy cultural achievements, participate in cultural activities and cultural affairs management, make cultural creation and have their cultural achievements protected by laws. Take the cultural information service for an example, which the citizens have enjoyed. At present, all administrative villages and 95% natural villages with more than 20 households have access to telephones, all towns and townships have basic access to the internet, all towns and townships and 88% administrative villages have access to broadband. Radio broadcast programs have a comprehensive coverage of 97.5% of the total population, and television programs have a comprehensive coverage of 98.2% of the whole population.
For social construction, China practically solves such most practicable issues as are most directly related to the interest of the people and concern the latter to the maximum, and guarantees the fundamental interest of the largest possible number of the people; accordingly, the citizens’ rights to social insurance, health and education have received better protection. China lays emphasis on the guarantee and improvement of people’s living conditions, and further improves basic public service systems. Accordingly, it has achieved remarkably in the construction of social insurance systems, and the levels and average levels of basic public service have been obviously increased. With years’ unremitting efforts, China has institutionally realized the overall coverage of basic endowment insurance and basic health insurance both in urban and rural areas. By the end of 2012, the people participating in various endowment insurance have amounted up to 790 million, and the people participating in various health medical insurance have exceeded 1.3 billion.
For ecological civilization construction, China insists on developing the ecological conception of respecting, conforming to and protecting nature, adheres to the basic national policy of environmental protection, gives an eminent place to the construction of ecological civilization, endeavors to build a beautiful China, and practically protects the citizens’ rights and interests in terms of environment. From 2008 to 2012, China had eliminated a 117 million tons backward iron smelting capacity, a 78 million tons steel smelting capacity and a 775-ton cement productive capacity, its energy consumption of unit GDP decreased 17.2%, its total chemical consumption of oxygen and total emission of carbon dioxide respectively decreased 15.7% and 17.5%. In 2012, fine particulate matters (PM2.5) were included as a regular supervision index of air quality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For human rights development, there is no best, only better. The cause of human rights of China has attained enormous achievements obvious to everyone, but China is still the largest developing country in the world, and still facing such problems as an excessively large population and great regional disparities, its environmental and ecological protection is enduring considerable pressure, and its development is still threatened by imbalance, disharmony and unsustainability. In the development of its various causes, there are still many problems concerning the actual interest of the people, and the improvement of the people’s living conditions and the protection of human rights are still facing many challenges. All these have to be solved with more strenuous efforts. China has formulated two sessions of the National Human Rights Action Plan. The National Human Rights Action Plan (2009—2010) was implemented on schedule, and all goals in the Plan have been achieved, in particular, about 35% constraint indexes and more than 50% indexes concerning the people’s living conditions have been fulfilled in ahead of the schedule or overfulfilled. Now, the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012—2015) is being put into practice.
Last year, the 18th National Congress of the CPC was successfully held. After “human rights” were respectively written into the Constitution of the PRC, the plans for national economy and social development and the Constitution of the CPC, this Conference once again established the “practical respect and protection of human rights” as one of the goals for the building of a better-off society. This Conference specifically proposed to build up a better-off society at the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the CPC (2021), and a wealthy, powerful, democratic, civilized and harmonious modernized socialist country at the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the PRC (2049). This Conference marks a new historic start point of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, and the beginning of a new era of the cause of human rights development of China.
The goal of the two “hundredth anniversaries” and the “Chinese dream” about the prosperity of the country, the invigoration of the nation and the happiness of the people are the simple ideal and good wish that the Chinese nation has persistently sought for, and the common pursuit of people of all the ethnic groups of China. The “Chinese dream” has the same source