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White paper details human rights progress
Updated: 2005-04-13 10:41

China on Wednesday published a white paper to show the marked progress in its human rights protection efforts in the year 2004. [Read full text]

The 41-page document, the 8th of its kind since 1991, has been intended to "help the international community toward a better understanding of the human rights situation in China," said the Information Office of the State Council which released it.

The year 2004 is an important year for China in building a well-off society in an all-round way, the white paper said. "It is alsoa year that saw all-round progress in China's human rights undertakings," it added.

The white paper listed China's major accomplishments in protecting and promoting human rights in 2004 as follows:

-- China's economy developed steadily and relatively rapidly, and people's rights to subsistence and development were improved considerably. China's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 13,650 billion yuan, an increase of 9.5 percent over the previous year. Total grain output in 2004 reached 469.5 billion kg, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year.

Throughout the country, 150 million farmers no longer paid agricultural tax in 2004, the first time ever in history. The population of poor farmers in the countryside was 2.9 million fewer than in the previous year.

The Chinese government considers the safety of life of the people above everything else. In 2004 the number of accidents and deaths throughout the country were reduced by 16.22 and 0.23 percent, respectively, compared with the previous year. And the number of gas-related accidents in coal mines dropped by 15.6 percent, and that of deaths by 7.8 percent.

The average life expectancy has increased from 35 years before the birth of New China in 1949 to the present 71.4 years.

-- China adhered to the road of political development with Chinese characteristics. It actively promoted democracy in political affairs and the building of political civilization to guarantee the citizens' civil and political rights.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC),China's top lawmaking body, in 2004 examined drafts of 33 laws, interpretations of laws and decisions related to legal issues, andadopted 25 of them, providing further legal guarantee for economicand social development and human rights.

Last year, 44 departments of the State Council gave some 270 news conferences, and 28 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) gave 460 news conferences. These activities greatly increased the transparency of government work, and helped citizens become betterinformed about administrative affairs. Protection of citizens' rights to information, supervision and participation in public affairs were further promoted.

Citizens enjoy the freedom of religious belief in accordance with law. According to incomplete statistics, China has now more than 100 million religious adherents, more than 100,000 venues forreligious activities, and about 300,000 clergy members. The accumulative print run of the Bible has reached 35 million.

-- In 2004, China strengthened its judicial reform to ensure strict law enforcement and fair administration of justice, and guarantee citizens' legal rights according to law.

Extended detention of criminal suspects has been deemed one of the most serious human rights violations, and by taking "vigorous measures," the Chinese public security organs had no extended detention by the end of last year.

Since May 2004, the Supreme People's Procuratorate has carried out a special campaign to severely deal with criminal cases involving government functionaries' infringement upon human rightsby misusing their powers, focusing on cases of illegal detention and search, extorting confessions by torture, gathering evidence with violence, abusing people in custody, disrupting elections as well as serious cases of dereliction of duty that cause heavy losses of life and property of the people. In total, 1,595 government functionaries suspected of criminal activities were investigated and prosecuted, thus effectively bringing under control offenses of infringement on rights.

In 2004, the courts throughout the country provided judicial aid in 263,860 cases, an increase of 15.6 percent from the previous year. The judicial aid totaled 1.09 billion yuan, 3.1 percent more than in the previous year.

The state has adopted many measures to promote employment and reemployment, including reemployment aid, strengthened controlof unemployment and regulation over staff cuts by enterprises. In 2004, there were 9.8 million new employees and 5.1 million re-employed laid-off workers in urban areas in China. The registered unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in urban areas, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the previous year.

In 2004, 4.19 million people received unemployment insurance benefits, 520,000 people received compensation under the industrial injury insurance scheme, about 2.20 million farmers received old-age pensions, and 22.01 million urban residents were issued minimum living allowances by the government.

-- In China, like citizens of the Han ethnic group, citizens ofethnic minorities equally enjoy all the rights accorded to Chinesecitizens by the Constitution and laws. But they also enjoy some special rights accorded to ethnic minorities by law.

During the five years since the kickoff of the strategy for thedevelopment of the western part of the country, which is densely populated by the ethnic minorities, the construction of 60 key projects has begun, involving a total investment of 850 billion yuan. In 2004, the state started ten major projects to develop western China, with a total investment of 80 billion yuan and covering the fields of transportation, energy, education and public health.

Eighty-three percent of the school-age children in Xinjiang, Tibet, Ningxia and Qinghai get free textbooks. In the agriculturaland pastoral areas of Tibet, school-age children not only are exempted from school fees but also are provided with free meals and accommodation.

-- The legal and policy guarantees for the rights and interestsof disabled people have been enhanced. The socialized rehabilitation service system has been continuously improved, key rehabilitation projects implemented effectively, and disabled people's self-reliance in daily life, social adaptability and living qualities enhanced. At present, 4.469 million disabled people in China are provided with social security of various forms.A social environment of equal participation, care and help for disabled people has taken shape.

-- China has all along been supportive to and actively participated in activities in the field of human rights sponsored by the United Nations. As a member of 21 international conventionson human rights, including the "International Covenant on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights," it has adopted a series of measures to perform its duties specified in the conventions. It is also actively considering approving the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

At the end of 2004, when the most serious tsunami in recorded history happened in the Indian Ocean, the Chinese government offered emergency aid to the afflicted countries immediately afterthe disaster. By March 1, 2005, the Chinese government had offered686 million yuan worth of aid, and the non-governmental donations amounted to 576 million yuan, in which over 50 percent of governmental aid in kind and cash had been delivered to the afflicted countries.

The white paper said as the realization of full human rights isa common pursuit of all countries in the world, China will, as always and together with the international community, make persistent efforts in promoting continuous progress of human rights in China and healthy development of international human rights.

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