Human rights standards shall not be monopolized
Pan Deng
A farmer harvests rice in Shanghua Village, Tianzhu County in southwest China's Guizhou Province, September 2, 2020. /Xinhua

A farmer harvests rice in Shanghua Village, Tianzhu County in southwest China's Guizhou Province, September 2, 2020. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Pan Deng is a member of the Academic Committee at Charhar Institute, executive director of the Latin America Law Center of China University of Political Science and Law, and distinguished professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at the Southwest University of Science and Technology. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In the last 20 years of the twentieth century, China actively joined the wave of globalization. Since then, the development and prosperity of this Asian country have been accompanied by criticism on human rights issues according to the Western perspective, which believes the words "human rights" are taboo and the most forgotten terrain in the rapid development of this Eastern country. 

"Human rights" has been the cheapest excuse to reproach the Chinese governance and the sharpest knife to smear the ruling Party's achievements and the welfare of the Chinese people.

In fact, early in 1991, the Chinese government published its first white paper on human rights. Since then, China has gradually accepted the internationally accepted concept and the institutional framework of human rights. In 2004, "the State respects and protects human rights" was included in the Constitution as a basic principle. The principle has been thus implemented into the normative documents underpinning the legislation, administration and judiciary system. 

In addition, "furthering the development of the cause of human rights" has also been incorporated into subsequent national strategies and plans. "The people's yearning for a better life" has become the fighting goal of the ruling party and has given this country's concept of human rights a deep meaning of " people-centered." Today, China embodies the respect for and the protection of human rights in the whole process of modernizing the national governance system and capabilities.

However, the word of those who are experiencing this great process is more convincing. In recent decades, the strength of the country has increased significantly. It is precisely in those years that the state of Chinese people's  human rights saw significant improvement. A swathe of systems and mechanisms were created to protect people's human rights. Among them are the nine-year compulsory education, the minimum life guarantee, the minimum wage guarantee, employment assistance and career guarantee, health insurance, government transparency, democracy and autonomy based on legal assistance, all of which have lifted the state of human rights from "survival" to "development." 

What shames countries that call themselves "human rights defenders" is that these systems cover all Chinese, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the world's population. Unlike the traditional philosophy of human rights, which is based on the protection of various political rights and takes "freedom" as its core, China strives to protect the rights of each Chinese citizen in the development of national prosperity and rejuvenation and people's happiness.

It is precisely based on this principle that China upholds the idea that the human rights situation is on a dynamic development path and is intimately related to its own political situation, economic development and social structure. 

Therefore, the best end does not exist, only the better-than-best end. Since 2009, China has successively formulated and implemented four phases of "National Human Rights Action Plans," setting goals and tasks to respect, protect and promote human rights in the coming period. 

After this stage, the implementation will be evaluated, and a summary will be made to set up a plan for the next phase. The "Evaluation Report on the Implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan (2016-2020)" published at the end of September 2020 showed that the 168 goals and tasks of the document were completed, many of them ahead of schedule.

The report cannot be expected to move the entire international community to face up to the situation of Chinese power. Human rights remain a weapon that some countries and the forces use to try to discredit China for political purposes, interfere in its internal affairs and curb its development.

However, for the people who really care about the cause of human rights progress in the world, it is still necessary to consider it.

While it is recognized as an internationally accepted practice to refine the human rights situation into several quantifiable indicators for evaluation, the selection of indicators should not be monopolized by individual countries or groups. The root causes of human rights issues are rooted in differences and confrontations between the East and West and between developed and developing countries.

A female tourist tries on a flower hat during the Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 8, 2019. /VCG

A female tourist tries on a flower hat during the Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 8, 2019. /VCG

The above-mentioned action plan and evaluation report respect the general views of the international community on human rights. Take as examples civil and political rights, of which there are 51 items in total. Another is the rights of specific groups, 37 items in total, and 15 items on implementing international human rights treaties and international exchanges and cooperation. Their assessment indicators incorporate the dominant views of the international community on human rights. 

This coincides with China's consistent position in this field: It must learn from all countries of the world the principles and practices useful for the protection and promotion of human rights, and, at the same time, make its own contribution to the cause of human rights in the world.

For those who seek to "maintain hegemony" in the name of "preserving international order," it is not necessary to deceive the world and create a lie for "some country is committed to changing international human rights rules." 

"Respect is the basis of interpersonal relationships," if they do not respect the progress and concepts of human rights of other countries, it is not worth discussing human rights issues with them. 

Honestly, there are discrepancies on this issue in international society. Some emphasize political and civil liberties, while others emphasize economic rights. There are people who believe that only human rights that can be remedied by justice are human rights, and others think that social welfare constitutes human rights. Some believe that individual rights are superior to collective rights, and some believe it is quite the opposite.

Each has its strengths and weaknesses. 

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