China's human rights progress hailed

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China has made remarkable achievements in improving human rights protection over the past 70 years, notably in people's livelihoods and development rights, especially after respecting and protecting human rights were added to the Constitution, human rights experts said.

"In China, protecting human rights is not a concept or slogan, it's protected by law and therefore must be enforced," Xu Xianming, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and deputy head of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, said on Thursday at a human rights forum.

In 1949, Chinese people's human rights were gravely threatened by poverty, poor health conditions and lack of education. In the early 1990s, the central government decided to prioritize improving basic livelihoods and development rights by promoting poverty alleviation as well as providing better healthcare and education, Xu said at the forum at Jilin University in Changchun, Jilin province.

Furthermore, adding respect and protection of human rights to the Constitution in 2004 marked a new era for China's human rights protection. Also, it has made people more aware of their human rights, said Xu, who is also deputy head of the NPC's Supervision and Justice Committee.

"China sees improving people's livelihoods as key to improving their human rights. It has also been attaching great importance to promoting equality," said Qiangba Puncog, head of the society and former vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.

Qiangba Puncog said China will step up efforts in helping other countries improve their human rights conditions by providing more aid and sharing the fruits of cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013.

Chinese businesses must fully respect the human rights of local employees and business partners when operating in countries taking part in the initiative so that it can be sustainable, said Xu Yawen, a law professor at Wuhan University, in Hubei province.

More than 100 human rights experts took part in the forum.

"Chinese corporations need to carry out human rights risk assessments before launching any overseas projects and try to eliminate risks before they become reality, which can be very damaging to the corporation as well as the initiative," Xu Yawen said.

Many Chinese corporations have already set up offices to deal with social responsibility-related issues. Such offices can be upgraded to human rights responsibility departments. The heads of these departments can alert decision-makers about possible human rights violations when investing abroad, he added.

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