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Xi's profound gift to human rights discourse

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-13 07:13
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President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year speech to ring in 2022 on Friday evening, Dec 31, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Editor's Note: To mark the publication of a book on President Xi Jinping's discourse on respecting and protecting human rights, a convention was held in Beijing recently where officials from the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, and some human rights experts and scholars held discussions with readers from home and abroad. Excerpts follow:

Pursuit of a happy life best way to protect rights

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core has attached great importance to the human rights cause. Xi has made a series of important remarks on respecting and protecting human rights, laying out the road map for the development of human rights in China in the new era, thus contributing Chinese wisdom to human rights development worldwide.

The publication of the book of extracts from Xi's speeches on and exposition of human rights is a milestone in human rights development in China and will help us understand the importance of and implement Xi's thoughts on human rights.

Xi's "people-centered" philosophy on human rights makes it clear that helping people to pursue a happy life is the best way to protect human rights. China adheres to the principle that all rights are interdependent and inseparable, takes people's rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights, and promotes the balanced development of economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand and civil and political rights on the other.

As such, China's human rights development is for and by the people, respects the principal position of the people, and ensures their rights to participation and development.

China believes that "people's satisfaction" is the highest development standard of human rights, regards fulfilling people's yearning for a better life as the goal of human rights development, and makes continuous efforts to improve people's sense of gain, happiness and security.

Jiang Jianguo, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee

Party's goal is to help people lead a happy life

The Party and the Chinese government have always respected and protected human rights. Since the day of its founding, the Party's goal has been to help people in their pursuit of happiness and promote the development of humankind. No wonder "respecting and protecting human rights" were written into the country's Constitution and the Party Constitution after the launch of reform and opening-up.

Since the 18th Party Congress, Xi has made a series of important remarks on promoting China's human rights cause and making human rights governance fairer, and more reasonable and inclusive, enriching the human rights cause worldwide with Chinese characteristics.

Xi's remarks on human rights show the importance of the Party putting the people first and its original mission of realizing happiness for the people and achieving national rejuvenation. They embody the Party's consistent position of upholding independence and embarking on the path of political and human rights development that conforms to China's national conditions. The remarks also show the Party's commitment to its global mission of making more contributions to humankind.

Huang Yibing, vice-president of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee

Neglect of people's right to life unforgivable

Human rights protection is a national responsibility. The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on societies, and people's lives and health, underscoring the importance of the right to life and health as the most fundamental of human rights.

So protecting human life and health during the epidemic is the litmus test to determine whether a country has done a good job in human rights development.

"People-centered" is a key phrase in the book. In fact, "people" appears 691 times and "masses" 89 times in the book, reflecting the importance of the "people" in Xi's thought.

When the pandemic broke out in January 2020, Xi stressed that the "prevention and control of the epidemic is a responsibility, and Party organs and governments at all levels must put people's safety and health first, and make epidemic prevention and control their most important task". Under the guidance of the CPC Central Committee, Party organs and governments at all levels joined the battle against the pandemic and brought it largely under control in less than 100 days.

That was not only a watershed in the prevention and control of the epidemic in China but also a great achievement in the protection of human rights globally, not least because it allowed the Chinese people to quickly return to normal life and resume near normal economic activity.

The fact that the pandemic was contained in a scientific and effective way has helped the Chinese people live and work in peace despite the occasional infection outbreaks in some places. Which can be a model of human rights protection.

On the other hand, some countries, especially the self-proclaimed human rights champions, either didn't do anything or looked for excuses to cover their failure to protect people's right to life in the face of the pandemic. This indifference to people's right to life is the most serious violation of human rights.

Zhang Yonghe, executive dean of, and a professor at the Human Rights Institute, Southwest University of Political Science and Law

US uses rights as a tool to bully developing nations

China has always been an active participant in and defender of the United Nations human rights system, and has made important contributions to the development of human rights worldwide.

For instance, it prompted the UN Commission on Human Rights to establish the Universal Periodic Review, which, to a certain extent, counters the hegemony of the US-led West that uses human rights as a political tool and finds fault with others without any self-introspection.

Besides eradicating absolute poverty at home, the Chinese government has also promoted the Belt and Road Initiative to help build a community with a shared future for mankind and assist developing countries to realize their poverty reduction goals according to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In global governance, the hegemonic practices of the US and other Western countries in the name of promoting human rights and democracy have been poisoning the international atmosphere. And although most developing countries suffer from it, they dare not speak out. These Western countries use so-called democracy to divide the people of developing countries and then interfere in their internal affairs, so as to make steady economic gains. Such acts are nothing but blatant bullying of developing countries and should be condemned by the international community.

Human rights should never become a tool for a handful of countries to reap unfair benefits. And the international community needs to unite against the politicization of human rights issues.

Zhang Wei, executive vice-director of, and a professor at, the Institute for Human Rights, China University of Political Science and Law

Special groups' rights better protected

Protecting the rights of special groups has always been the focus of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. The history of special groups' rights in China reveals three specific features:

First, special groups' rights are better protected today than ever before, because Xi pays special attention to the well-being of such groups including college graduates, migrant workers, veterans, HIV-positive and AIDS patients, and front-line female medical workers in his discussions on respecting and protecting human rights.

Second, the protection of the rights and interests of special groups in economic, political, social, cultural and other fields is more coordinated and advanced. This is reflected in the efforts to ensure women equal participation in the management, administration and discussion of State and social affairs, guarantee ethnic minorities the right to freedom of religion, and reform the juvenile and family trial system so that juvenile criminal suspects receive a fair trial, and take measures to ensure people with disability can freely obtain information and participate in elections.

And third, the protection of the rights and interests of special groups places more emphasis on empowerment. Xi once quoted an ancient Chinese saying, "give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for his lifetime", to emphasize that the government help the poor and disadvantaged to improve their livelihoods and lead a better life.

Zhao Shunkun, a professor at the Institute for Human Rights, Southwest University of Political Science and Law

Rule of law best form of human rights protection

The book, Excerpts from Xi Jinping's Discussions on Respecting and Protecting Human Rights, is full of incisive and profound discussions on the protection of human rights and the rule of law.

The main aim of comprehensively governing the country based on the rule of law is to protect the rights and interests of all the people. The rule of law is the basic requirement and strategy of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the protection and development of human rights the fundamental purpose of governing the country. Establishing the rule of law is the best way to protect human rights, which means human rights and the rule of law are inseparable.

However, throughout this process, there is a need to coordinate development and security, reform and the rule of law, and protect the rights and interests of all citizens. Fairness and justice are inherent to socialism, and it is necessary to give full play to the roles of reform and rule of law to achieve social fairness and justice, implement the national security and new development concepts, strengthen systematic planning, and realize the goals of common prosperity, rural revitalization, and social equality protection.

There is also a need to build a government based on the rule by law. It is therefore necessary to follow the principle that no action can be taken and no power can be exercised without the authorization of law, which in essence means prohibiting the illegal exercise of power. This is important because administrative law enforcement concerns public interest and is related to people's trust in the Party, the government and the rule of law.

The judiciary, on its part, must deliver fair judgments, and judicial organs at all levels across the country must keep in mind the goal set by Xi, which is to make people feel that justice has been delivered in each and every case.

It is also important to strengthen the restrictions on power and eliminate corruption in accordance with law. Corruption is a serious violation of human rights and, as Xi has emphasized many times, the fight against corruption must continue unremittingly and resolutely until corruption is rooted out from all fields.

Xiao Junyong, executive director of the Research Center of Science and Technology and Human Rights, Beijing Institute of Technology

Book summarizes China's human rights theory

As a media professional working on the front line of international communication, I was excited to get a copy of the Excerpts from Xi Jinping's Discussion on Respecting and Protecting Human Rights. And as expected, the book turned out to be a great source of inspiration for me.

For long, some Western countries have tried to smear China on human rights issues, portraying it as a country which is undemocratic and opaque, and accusing it of violating human rights.

But despite the West monopolizing the international discourse on human rights, anyone with even the basic knowledge about human rights will know the Western claims are baseless. The Western countries are vilifying China only to check the country's rapid economic and social development, not out of concern for human rights.

Over the years, China has refuted and taken countermeasures against these false claims. But it lacked a human rights theory to depend on. Now, the Excerpts from Xi Jinping's Discussions on Respecting and Protecting Human Rights systematically explains China's human rights concept of putting the people first and promoting human rights through economic development, and lays out the road map for international communication in the new era.

So media professionals should now proactively publicize Xi's discussions on human rights, study and carefully explain his exposition of human rights, extensively report on China's human rights development, end the West's monopoly on the global discourse on human rights, and allow the world to see the real China and the confidence, optimism and warmth of the Chinese people.

Ouyang Qianxi, a journalist with the Arabic language department of CGTN

Logical discourse on human rights

Human rights have been one of the biggest concerns of the Communist Party of China since its foundation in 1921. With the Party celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding last year, a book with extracts from President Xi Jinping's discourse on human rights, and the importance of respecting and protecting them in the new era was published in December.

The book includes President Xi's thoughts and ideas on human rights. The discourse on human rights plays an important role in Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

The book is full of innovative ideas on human rights that suit China's national conditions and realities, and advances the theory of socialist human rights with Chinese characteristics. Xi's discourse is also a development of the Marxist theory on human rights.

The book is well organized, and the discourse has clear logic. One of the subjects it discusses is the methodology of human rights, and the relationship of human rights with politics, society, culture, the economy and the environment.

The structure of the book is complete and its content comprehensive. And the practical methods mentioned in the book, which are based on China's successful practice of advancing human rights, can be meaningful to the world.

Meng Tao, an associate professor at the Human Rights Research Center of Renmin University of China

Theory on protection of the right of life

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in November 2012, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has delivered many important speeches on issues related to people's health. After the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he emphasized that the Party put the people first, and people's lives and health front and center.

Xi's discourse on human health and life has guided the Party in its efforts to protect people's right to life and health in the new era. It has also demonstrated the innovative development of benevolence, a traditional Chinese virtue.

Compared with Western theories on human rights, Xi's theory introduces to the world a new concept on the protection of the right of life.

The Party's effective response to the pandemic is the best interpretation of the theory of "putting people's lives first". The right to life is one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions on human rights, but the capability to protect the right to life differs from country to country.

Therefore, we should have confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialist human rights with Chinese characteristics and uphold the Party's leadership of the human rights cause and promote its further development.

Shang Haiming, an associate professor at the Human Rights Research Institute of Southwest University of Political Science and Law

Only Party can develop human rights cause

I can feel the spirit of public service in the way President Xi has emphasized the importance of respecting and protecting human rights on different occasions. And I have realized that the human rights cause can be developed and the Chinese people can achieve prosperity only by following the Party's leadership and socialism with Chinese characteristics, because they are best suited to China's national conditions and realities.

The Party's goal has been to serve the people so they can prosper and realize national rejuvenation. China's human rights cause can be advanced only with the development of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics and socialist modernization.

Under the CPC's leadership, China will advance law-based and people-centered governance, and inject new vitality in the global human rights cause.

Wang Huiru, a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Sci&Tech and Human Rights Studies at Beijing Institute of Technology

The importance of people first policy

Since the past decade, I have been working and living in China. During the outbreak of the pandemic, I have closely observed the steps taken by the Chinese leaders, especially President Xi Jinping, to protect the lives and health of the Chinese people. His humanity, his care for the people impressed me most.

The treatment of all patients infected with the novel coronavirus was free, reflecting the importance the Chinese government, especially President Xi, attaches to people's lives, including foreigners living in China.

Moreover, China actively shares information on the virus, medical resources, and treatment policy with countries around the world to help them control the pandemic. For instance, Chinese society of cardiology translated and published national guidelines for epidemic prevention and control and treatment, (I was one of the team members who translated the guideline) within a week, which was a big contribution to the global fight against the virus.

President Xi pays attention to the problems faced by the Chinese people as well as countries over the world. No wonder China has sent medical teams, medicines and COVID-19 vaccines to many other countries.

Human life is more than anything else. And as a doctor, I can say China protects the human rights of all people. I hope in the future more countries work together to protect the human rights for all.

Misbahul Ferdous, a Bangladeshi doctor working at Fuwai Hospital, Beijing, and vice-president, Asian Society of Cardiology

No one superior or inferior to others

We do believe in human rights, we do believe that in essence all human beings have the right to be happy and seek better opportunities.

The question is about walking the talk. Human rights aren't any one country's patent, but a journey, a process, a deliverable a country completes in steps. Human rights include economic rights, the right to safety, stability, peace, education, health, and better prospects. Human rights mean the right to dignity, hope and happiness.

The more I learn about China, meeting Chinese people in big cities and small villages, the more I realize the consistent improvement China has made and the increasing opportunities it has created for the people. I have also realized the increasing trust between the Party and the people. People matter the most for the Chinese government.

The irony is that despite protecting human rights and improving people's livelihoods, China is criticized by hypocritical countries which have not only failed to deliver domestically but also destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the world.

We the 75 percent Global South need more constructive ways forward. We have suffered enough from governments taking the moral high ground and interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

However, more should be done to deepen the understanding about China, and this book is a great contribution to that process.

Human rights are not "ideals" or "ideas" to debate and discuss, but deliverables to work on, step by step. This book, dedicated to a topic that unites us as humanity, is at its core, prompting others to act and make a difference. For people and countries debating ideals, my suggestion is that they address real tangible challenges that humanity faces.

Give people better lives, make it your priority. As a global community, we can learn from each other, cooperate and exchange experiences that have delivered, in order to achieve a peaceful and happier world. A world where humanity is respected, human dignity is not only restored, but also elevated, and no one is superior or inferior to the other.

Zoon Ahmed Khan, a Pakistani scholar with the Center for China& Globalization

Poverty alleviation protects human rights

President Xi Jinping has articulated the aspirations of not only the Chinese people but also that of the people in many other developing countries. In fact, I would argue that the book provides a solid framework for approaching human rights issues for anyone who wants to understand why developing countries tend to be dismissive of human rights violation charges frequently leveled by developed countries against them.

In a nutshell, "the right to development" of each nation is critical to the achievement and protection of other human rights. Without the guarantee of individual economic rights, it remains difficult, if not impossible, to make any meaningful gains in the advancement of other aspects of human rights.

For instance, the eradication of absolute poverty must be seen as an urgent and pressing human rights' issue. And countries, which prioritize tackling poverty above all else, as a first step toward the full realization of other human rights ought to be commended rather than vilified.

It is essential to put the people first in all human rights' conversations. After all, "human rights" concern the protection of human dignity. Therefore, human rights governance, both at the national and international level, must be people-oriented. And policies must place the welfare of the people front and center.

Woyin Gregory, a Nigerian researcher with CGTN think tank

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