China's achievements in protecting people's economic, social and cultural rights should not be viewed through a tainted lens
At the end of last month, China issued a white paper on Progress in China's Human Rights in 2009, which was a full and comprehensive stocktaking of the human rights achievements of China during the year, among which, achievements in economic, social and cultural rights merit special attention.
It has been a consistent policy of the government to continuously raise the standard of human rights with the advancement of economic and social development. To counter the negative impact of the global financial crisis, the government took effective measures to solve problems in areas such as employment, healthcare, education and social security.
A more detailed and comprehensive overview in this regard can be found in China's second periodic report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the country presented to the United Nations on June 30.
Besides presenting the achievements China has made in protecting people's economic, social and cultural rights during the past seven years, the report also responded to the observations made by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights when it reviewed China's first implementation report in May 2005.
Under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 30 departments in charge of legislative, judiciary and government administration took part in discussing and composing the report, which was prepared in a timely, thorough, comprehensive and objective manner.
The submission of this report is an important step toward the protection and promotion of human rights in China and shows the country's willingness to seek international cooperation on human rights issues.
China's implementation of the covenant, one of the most important international human rights instruments, can be illustrated by its measures to create new jobs, raise household incomes and reform the income distribution system.
The government has made great efforts to improve social welfare, labor protection, disaster relief and education and it is trying hard to curb the soaring housing prices and handle housing demolition in a more cautious way.
The Employment Promotion Law, promulgated in 2007, legalized government policies and mechanisms aimed at creating jobs, providing career assistance and improving public services.
Detailed standards were also stipulated to ensure equal rights to employment and to eliminate job discrimination. More than 10 million new jobs have been created nationwide each year in recent years, and the urban registered jobless rate has been kept below 4.3 percent.
More proactive measures were adopted last year to cope with the financial crisis, with more funding and more flexible pension, healthcare and insurance policies put in place.