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Constitution revision set to include "protect human rights"
Updated: 2004-03-02 07:44

The better protection of human rights will be one of the priorities of China in the 21st Century, a senior government official said in Beijing on March 1.

The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) had showed greater concern for human rights and so had the government, said Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan on Monday.

The draft amendment to the Constitution, scheduled to be discussed at the annual session of the Chinese legislature here this month, includes the CPC-proposed item "to respect and guarantee human rights".

The new Chinese leadership also promoted a human-centered scientific concept of development featuring humanistic governance and comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development of the economy and society.

"The series of policies put forward by the new Chinese leadership since last year are of significant to improve human rights protection in China," said Zhou Jue, president of the China Society for Human Rights (CSHR) at the second session of its second national council held on Monday.

It was noticeable that the Party and the government pledged to promote citizens' participation in political life and better implement the Constitution, Zhou said.

China had adopted the open elections for village committees in rural areas and promoted the votes for community committees in cities. Voting for heads of townships and counties was on trial in a few areas.

The government had carried out helpful measures to protect the rights of minorities such as the floating population, migrant workers, AIDS/HIV-positive and needy people, he added.

Premier Wen Jiabao visited and shook hands with AIDS patients in Beijing on Dec. 1 last year, the first such action from the government. The administration also promised to offer free medicine to needy AIDS/HIV-positive people.

"China's perspective on human rights is different from the West since the two have different cultures and face different economic and social problems," said Zhu Muzhi, a senior expert and honorary president of the CSHR. "It is not confrontation, but dialogue that will narrow the differences."

The Chinese enjoyed better human rights than ever before, but there were problems, said Prof. Chen Zhishang, of Beijing University and a member of CSHR.

The gap between the rich and the poor and between cities and the countryside was expanding and the country should seek new ways to protect the rights of the poor and the rural population, Chen said.

The CSHR, founded in 1993, is the only national academic society for human rights in China with a total membership of 163.

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