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China reviews human rights progress, pledging greater effort

Updated: Jun 15,2016 7:45 AM     Xinhua

The central government on June 14 released a report reviewing China’s human rights progress from 2012 to 2015, accompanied by a commitment to furthering the cause.

China launched the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015) in June 2012, following the inaugural plan for the 2009-2010 period.

The major targets and tasks outlined in the 2012-2015 plan had been fulfilled, as scheduled, by the end of 2015, according the report issued by the State Council Information Office.

About 48 percent of the binding targets and over 50 percent of the targets concerning the public’s livelihood had been met or exceeded ahead of schedule, the report says.

“The Communist Party of China and the central government incorporated universal human rights into the national condition [ ...] successfully charting a path of human rights development [that] suits China,” the report says.

Fulfilling the plan demonstrates the Party and government’s commitment to and confidence in the human rights cause and the huge advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, it says.

China is one of 34 countries in the world to adopt an action plan on human rights protection, indicating that this issue is of great importance to China, said Zhang Xiaoling, director of the human rights research center of the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

“We Chinese have made great contributions to the global effort of human rights protection,” Zhang said.

However, the report admits that the government is keenly aware of many challenges, for instance, China’s economic development mode is still crude and it is still fraught with problems from unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development.

The country is still struggling to deal with a big gap between urban and rural areas as well as issues related to medical, education, and elderly care; food and drug safety; income distribution; and environment.

“There is still a long way to go,” it says.

The 2016-2020 action plan is being drafted and will be published soon, said Jiang Jianguo, head of the State Council Information Office, at a meeting held to review the implementation of the 2012-2015 plan.

The new plan will be in tune with major targets and projects of the country’s 13th five-year plan (2016-2020), he said.

“The priority of human rights protection in China will remain to be the right to life and development. We want all Chinese to have a share in economic and social development,” Zhang said.

The country will need to do more to alleviate poverty as around 50 million people still live under the poverty line, meaning they have a per capita net income of less than 2,800 yuan ($427) a year.

It will also need to push forward the rule of law so that legislation and law enforcement protects the rights and interests of ordinary citizens, while more resources are needed to protect women, children, senior citizens, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities, Zhang said.

IMPROVEMENT OF PEOPLE’S WELFARE

From 2012 to 2015, faced with a complex international situation and the challenging tasks of pushing reform and maintaining stability, the government has pushed for more efficient, fairer and more sustainable growth and worked to ensure that all people benefit from reform and development.

Compared with the average 7.4-percent annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth posted across the 2012-2015 period, the per capita disposable income of urban residents increased by 7.5 percent and the per capita net income for rural residents increased by 9.2 percent annually.

During the period, 66.63 million people in rural areas were lifted out of poverty.

Ordinary citizens have enjoyed more comprehensive social security programs and better public services, while more efforts were made to realize equal access to education and address pollution.

The rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities were improved.

PROMOTING RULE OF LAW

Efforts have been made to improve government transparency, through computer and Internet technology, to realize people’s rights to be informed, express their opinion, participate in state affairs and oversee the government.

Judicial reforms were smoothly pushed forward to improve transparency of judicial agencies, streamline legal proceedings to ensure the principle of “innocence until proven guilty” and to guarantee lawyers’ rights.

Efforts were made to correct wrongful convictions and ensure judicial departments perform their duties independently in accordance with the law.

In December 2013, China abolished the system of re-education through labor.

In 2015, about 30,000 imprisoned criminals in four categories were pardoned or granted early release.

The latest revision to the Criminal Law, adopted in 2015, removed the death penalty for nine crimes, reducing the number of crimes on which the death penalty is applicable from 55 to 46.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

From 2012 to 2015, the government canceled or adjusted 12 items related to religious affairs that had been subject to administrative approval.

In the four years, 200 million yuan was spent on the renovation and expansion of religious facilities in Tibet.

By the end of 2015, 87 temples in Yushu, northwest China’s Qinghai province, which were damaged in a major earthquake in 2010, had been fully restored.

From 2012 to 2015, the government allocated nearly 15 million yuan to support and assist the repair and preservation of mosques and historic religious sites.

Religious workers are now fully covered by social security programs. By 2013, 96.5 percent had medical insurance and 89.62 percent had pension schemes.

JOINING INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS EFFORT

From 2012 to 2015, China has maintained constructive dialogues with several treaty bodies on its implementation of international conventions about human rights.

In 2014, China participated and passed the second round of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. It also took an active part in multilateral human rights meetings hosted by the third committee of the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.

From 2012 to 2015, the country held more than 20 human rights dialogues with the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Switzerland, as well as more than 10 human rights consultations and exchanges with countries including Russia, Brazil, Pakistan and Cuba.

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