Foreign and Military Affairs

Liu's Nobel ignores China's true human rights progress

Updated: 2010-12-10 23:05
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BEIJING -- A Chinese scholar on human rights said that awarding this year's Nobel peace prize to convicted Chinese criminal Liu Xiaobo is an act that displays ignorance of China's true human rights progress.

Chang Jian, acting vice director of the center for human rights research of Nankai University, made the remark in an interview with Xinhua before the official awarding of the Nobel prize in a ceremony in Oslo, Norway on Friday.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the majority of the international community does not support the Nobel Committee's decision to award Liu the prize, and over 100 countries and international organizations have expressed support for China's stance on the issue.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese government has fully considered both the universal principles of human rights and the country's actual conditions, and has made unremitting efforts to promote and safeguard human rights.

Since China implemented its reform and opening-up policies more than 30 years ago, millions of people in China have been delivered from struggles with daily subsistence and now enjoy overall improved living standards.

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Between 1978 and 2009, China's GDP grew at an annual rate of 9.9 percent, while per capita GDP increased by over 12 times, government statistics show.

Also, China's Engel's Coefficient, which measures the amount of money spent on food compared with total income, fell from 57.5 percent in 1978 to 36.5 percent in 2009 in cities, and from 67.7 percent to 41 percent in rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government attached great importance to guaranteeing and improving people's livelihoods by setting up social welfare systems.

In China' s rural areas, 800 million people are now covered by a new rural medical insurance, and some are now in a pilot pension program, as well. Further, nine-year compulsory education is now available for 99.7 percent of the entire population.

Additionally, the Chinese government has significantly improved the lives of low-incomes groups in terms of employment, education and housing through similar social welfare and public service programs.

The Chinese government has always paid great attention to alleviating poverty, which is closely related to the rights of subsistence and development.

From 1978 to 2008, the population living under the poverty line declined by over 230 million, which means three-fourths of the people delivered from destitution in developing countries are from China. Also, the life expectancy reached 73 years old, five years higher than in 1978.

"The State respects and protects human rights" was written into the Constitution in 2004 to provide a legal guarantee of human rights.

Human rights experts, at home and abroad, have recognized China's devotion to improving and protecting human rights in a way that is consistent with Chinese characteristics.

China has improved human rights in all aspects, along with progress in reform and development, while maintaining social stability, they said.

A spokesperson with China's foreign ministry said, earlier this month, that the Nobel Committee's decision to award the peace prize to Liu is a political decision seeking to push change in China and clearly shows their conspicuous political attempts.

This runs utterly against the prize's purpose, and any unprejudiced people of justice would make the right decision, the spokesperson said.

The human rights experts said this year's peace award is no longer an issue of freedom and human rights, but it is, in fact, an issue concerning whether judicial sovereignty should be respected and how to judge China's development path.

The 1.3 billion people in China are the ones who have the utmost legitimate right to speak on these issues. It is certain that China will be steadfast in a development path that fits the country's national condition.