The human rights advocated by China encompass not only the right
to subsistence and the civic and political rights, but also economic,
cultural and social rights. The Chinese government pays due attention
to the protection and realization of the rights of the country,
the various nationalities and private citizens to economic, cultural,
social and political development.
Socialist China eliminated the system of exploitation of man by
man, thus making it possible for the first time in history for all
working people to secure the right to equal economic development.
China upholds the socialist system of public ownership of the means
of production as the mainstay while at the same time permitting
and encouraging the appropriate development of other economic sectors
as supplements to the socialist economy. It will neither adopt a
unitary public ownership system, which is divorced from the nation's
current level of development of productive forces, nor practice
privatization, which tends to shake the dominant position of public
ownership in the national economy. Public ownership of the means
of production constitutes the basis of China's socialist economic
system. It guarantees that the major means of production in society
are possessed by all the working people through the ownership by
the whole people and the collective ownership by the laboring masses.
The working people enjoy the right to manage, control and use the
means of production. According to statistics, the total social investment
in fixed assets in China came to 444.9 billion yuan in 1990, of
which 291.9 billion yuan, or 65.6 percent, was invested in units
owned by the whole people, and 52.9 billion, or 11.9 percent, in
collectively-owned units. That is to say, the bigger share (77.5
percent) of the social investment in fixed assets is owned by the
state and the collectives of the laboring masses.
The distribution system adopted in China is mainly based on the
principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according
to his work." At the same time, the government allows and encourages
some people to become rich first by the sweat of their brow and
though legitimate business activities. Those who get rich first
can then help others, so that common prosperity can be achieved.
This brings into play the enthusiasm of the laboring masses and
at the same time prevents polarization. China is one of the nations
that register the lowest income gap in the world. According to 1990
statistics, the 20 percent of urban dwellers with the highest spendable
incomes earn only 2.5 times as much as the 20 percent with the lowest
incomes. This very fact has made it possible for China, an economically
underdeveloped country, to guarantee the livelihood of its 1.1 billion
people and avoid social confrontation resulting from polarization.
Economic equality has motivated the laboring people to a great
extent and brought about speedy growth of the Chinese economy.
Over the past 40-odd post-liberation years and particularly in
the past decade and more since the adoption of the policy of reform
and opening to the outside world, China has all along been in the
front rank of the world in terms of the rate of economic growth.
The annual increase of GNP was 6.9 percent during the 1953-90 period
and 8.8 percent during the 1979-90 period. China now leads the world
in the output of many important products, including grain, cotton,
pork, beef, mutton, cloth, coal, cement and television sets; and
it has also emerged as one of the world's biggest producers of steel,
crude oil, electricity and synthetic fibers.
With the growth of the national economy, the overall living standards
of the Chinese people have greatly improved. Statistics show that
in 1990 China's national income came to 1,442.9 billion yuan, or
11.9 times the 1952 figure of 58.9 billion yuan calculated according
to constant prices. A good part of the national income was spent
on consumer goods. In 1990, consumer spending amounted to 944.4
billion yuan, which was 8.4 times the 1952 figure of 47.7 billion
yuan according to constant prices. Of the total volume of consumption,
810 billion yuan was spent by individual consumers, which was 7.3
times the 43.4 billion yuan in 1952 according to constant prices.
The per-capita volume of consumption for the Chinese residents averaged
714 yuan in 1990, 3.7 times more than in 1952 according to constant
prices, despite a 98.9 percent population increase in the intervening
years. Now that the Chinese people have solved the basic problems
of food and clothing, they are working their way toward a well-to-do
life. According to statistics, in 1990 every hundred rural families
owned 118.3 bicycles and 44.4 TV sets; and every hundred urban house-holds
owned 188.6 bicycles, 111.4 TV sets, 42.3 refrigerators and 78.4
washing machines. In addition, the housing conditions of Chinese
residents have improved, with the 1990 average per-capita living
space increased to 7.1 square meters from 3.6 square meters in 1978
for urban dwellers and to 17.8 square meters from 8.1 square meters
in 1978 for rural inhabitants. The speeds at which the economy grows
and the people's living standards improve in New China are not only
something inconceivable in old China, but also among the highest
in the world community.
The right to work is a basic right of the citizens. In old China,
people were deprived of the right to work according to their own
will. This right was controlled by the landlords and capitalists,
the owners of the means of production. The working people were constantly
threatened by the prospect of unemployment. When China was liberated
in 1949, a total of 4.742 million, or 60 percent of the total labor
force in the cities, were jobless. It is stipulated in the Constitution
that Chinese citizens have both the right and the duty to work.
The government took all sorts of measures and solved the problem
of unemployment, thereby enabling the masses of the working people
to take part in socialist construction as masters of the society.
In the 12 years between 1979 and 1990, a total of 94 million new
jobs were created in urban areas. With the expansion of the productive
forces, the problem of rural surplus labor emerged as a major issue.
The Chinese government has adopted the policy for some of the farmers
to "leave the field but remain in the village," and, by vigorously
developing rural enterprises and encouraging individual households
to run industrial and sideline occupations along specialized lines,
found the fundamental way out for the surplus labor force in rural
areas. Since 1985, the unemployment rate in urban areas has remained
at around 2.5 percent, which is fairly low as compared with other
countries in the world.
The Constitution provides that public property and the legitimate
property of citizens are protected. Public property owned by the
state, collective property owned by the working people, and the
legitimate property owned by individuals are all protected by law.
Any organization or individual is thus forbidden to occupy, seize,
share out or destroy such properties. It is also forbidden to seal
up, withhold, freeze or confiscate such properties by illegal means.
The state protects the citizens' ownership and inheritance rights
to their legitimate income, savings, housing and other legitimate
properties. The rights of use and contract management of state-owned
land, forests, mountains, grassland, uncultivated land, beaches
and waters obtained by units under public ownership and collective
ownership and private citizens through legal means are protected
by law. Whoever infringes upon such rights shall be dealt with by
legal means. At present, there are more than 90,000 private enterprises
in China. Like the properties of units under public ownership or
collectively owned by the laboring people, the legitimate properties
of private enterprises are under the protection of law and shall
not be illegally seized, sealed up or confiscated. The Chinese government
also provides legal protection to foreign investment, joint ventures
with Chinese and foreign investment and solely foreign-owned enterprises
The right of education is an important prerequisite for the overall,
free development of human beings. In old China, the majority of
the working people did not have such a right. With only less than
20 percent of school-age children going to school, more than 80
percent of the total population were illiterate. After the founding
of New China, the government took various measures to guarantee
the citizens' right of education by devoting great efforts to the
development of education. By 1989, China had set up 1.045 million
schools at various levels in urban and rural areas. Among them 1,075
were regular institutions of higher learning. In 1990, about 99.77
percent of school-age children in the cities and 97.29 percent of
school-age children in the countryside were attending school. The
numbers of college, middle school and primary school students were
respectively 17.6 times, 40.3 times, and 5 times the 1949 figures.
During the 1949-90 period, a total of 7.608 million graduate and
undergraduate students completed their college education, almost
40 times the total between 1912 and 1948 in old China.
Since China adopted the policy of reform and opening to the outside
world, the number of students studying abroad has been rapidly increasing.
Since 1978, China has sent 150,000 students in various disciplines
of learning to study in 86 countries and regions. So far almost
50,000 of them have returned after finishing their studies, and
over 100,000 of them are staying abroad. After the political incident
of 1989, the number of Chinese going abroad to study has not decreased
but has increased to some extent. In 1990, China completed its plan
of sending 3,000 government-sponsored students abroad for academic
pursuits. Meanwhile, about 6,000 students were sent to foreign countries
by various units, and 20,000 (not including those enrolled in Australian
and Japanese language schools) paid their own way to study abroad.
According to statistics of departments concerned in Beijing, Shanghai
and Guangzhou, more than 3,000 students have returned from overseas
and have started work at their new posts during the past two years.
In the meantime, more than 5,700 students have returned to countries
where they study after coming home to visit relatives, take vacation
or do short-term jobs. According to international norm, Chinese
students who are sponsored by the government to study abroad have
the duty to return to serve their home country. The Chinese government,
always valuing returned students and creating favorable working
conditions for them upon return to China, has set up special organizations
to take direct responsibility in receiving and arranging suitable
jobs for returned students. More than 70 post-doctoral mobile research
centers and short-term working stations have been set up by the
Chinese Academy of Sciences and various universities, offering fine
research and living conditions for those who have returned. Moreover,
the Chinese government and related departments have set up a number
of foundations to raise funds for scientific research and to aid
returned students in research and teaching activities.
The Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of scientific research and literary
and artistic creation. In order to promote the development of scientific
research and to bring about cultural and artistic prosperity, the
Chinese government upholds the guideline of "serving the people
and socialism" and the principle of "letting a hundred flowers blossom
and a hundred of schools of thought contend." Since the founding
of New China, the contingent of scientists and technicians has steadily
expanded. In 1990, state-run units employed a total of 10.808 million
natural scientists and technical workers, 24.4 times more than the
1952 figure of 425,000. The State Commission of Natural Science
Foundation has since its establishment in February 1986 accepted
34,847 applications for scientific research projects which call
for a total allotment of 2.31 billion yuan. Large numbers of outstanding
achievements have been registered in the field of science and technology.
In biological science, Chinese scientists succeeded in making synthetic
bovine insulin and in converting yeast alanine into synthetic ribonucleic
acid (RNA); in agricultural science, experiments in hybrid paddy
rice have been successful; in high-energy physics, an electron-positron
collider was constructed; other achievements in high technology
are represented by the successful explosion of atomic and hydrogen
bombs, the making of super-computers capable of 100 million calculations
per second, the launching of the Long March III carrier rocket and
the research in satellite telecommunications and superconductivity.
In all these fields, China has either reached or approached advanced
China has formed a legal system to protect intellectual property
rights. A trademark law and a patent law have been promulgated and
put in force. On June 1, 1991, a copyright law went into effect.
According to 1990 statistics, more than 270,000 valid trademarks
have been registered; and 66 countries and regions have applied
for patent rights in China. By the end of 1990, American enterprises
alone have applied for registration of 12,528 patent rights in China.
Public health facilities are a necessary guarantee for the human
rights of life and health. In old China, health organizations and
technicians were in short supply and at a low level and the majority
of them were concentrated in urban areas. After the founding of
New China, a public health network was gradually established. Covering
all the cities and countryside, this network includes many kinds
of health organizations at various levels and employs different
types of public health workers. In 1990, there were 209,000 health
institutions across the land, 56.9 times that of 1949. The number
of hospital beds rose to 2.624 million, a 32.8-fold increase; and
the number of professional health workers reached 3.898 million,
7.7 times that of 1949. In the countryside where the majority of
Chinese people live, there are 47,749 hospitals at the township
level; health centers or clinics have been set up in 86.2 percent
of all villages; the number of hospital beds has reached 1.502 million;
and there are 1.232 million medical personnel and professional health
workers. In China, every doctor serves an average of 649 people
whereas in medium-income countries the figure is 2,390. With the
development of medical and public health undertakings, the incidence
of infectious and endemic diseases has been drastically reduced.
Such highly infectious diseases as leprosy, cholera, the plague,
and smallpox have been basically eradicated. Snail fever, Kaschin-Beck
disease, the Keshan disease and other endemic diseases have come
under control. The development of medical care and epidemic prevention
has greatly improved the health of the Chinese people. Impressed
by what he called China's "surprising" achievements in medical care,
Dr. Bernard P. Kean, the World Health Organization's representative
in China, said that he could hardly believe it was a developing
country by looking only at such statistics as life expectancy, infant
mortality, and causes of death.
The Chinese nation has a fine tradition of respecting elderly people.
This tradition has been carried forward in New China. Senior citizens
have the right to material assistance from the state and society.
By the end of 1990, there had been 23.01 million people in the whole
country living on retirement pensions. The proportion of the number
of retired workers to the number of workers still in service is
1:6. In 1990, the pension for an average retired worker was 60 percent
of the average pay for a worker in service, which ensured the livelihood
of senior citizens in retirement, who also had the help and care
of people from all walks of life. In urban areas, one of the major
tasks of Neighborhood Committees is to help widowed senior citizens
and safeguard their rights and interests. Welfare institutions and
senior citizen homes have been set up respectively by the state
and the collective enterprises to provide board and lodging and
other free services for senior citizens without relatives to depend
on. In rural areas, childless and infirm old people are guaranteed
food, clothing, housing, medical care and burial expenses by society
and collectives. The legal rights of senior citizens are protected
by law; it is forbidden to abuse, insult, slander, ill-treat or
abandon them. Adult offspring have the obligation to provide for
China attaches great importance to guaranteeing the rights of women,
children and teenagers.
According to the Constitution, women share equal rights with men
in political, economic, cultural, social and family life. Like men,
they have the right to elect and to be elected. A considerable percentage
of people's deputies and officials at various levels are women.
Of the people's deputies elected in 1988 to the Seventh National
People's Congress, 634, or 21.3 percent, were women. At present,
5,600 women serve as judges in the people's courts. The state lays
special stress on training and promoting women cadres. The number
of women serving in government offices has increased from 366,000
in 1951 to 8.7 million; this accounts for 28.8 percent of the total
number of civil servants. In China, men and women get equal pay
for equal work. Working women enjoy the right of special labor protection
and labor insurance. The total number of women workers in China
has increased from 600,000 in 1949 to 53 million. Women's right
to education is also duly respected. In 1990, the total number of
female students at school reached 78.81 million. These included
700,000 college students, 21.56 million middle-school students and
56.56 million primary school students, accounting for 33.7 percent,
42.2 percent and 46.2 percent respectively of the total number of
students at school and college.
The state also pays special attention to protecting women's right
to freedom of choice in marriage and forbids mercenary and arranged
marriages and other acts of interference in other people's freedom
of marriage. The judicial departments have taken stern measures
according to law against criminals engaged in the sale of women.
The state has formulated laws and regulations to protect children.
It is strictly forbidden to ill-treat and sell children and to use
child labor. In order to safeguard the life and health of children,
the state has issued a decision on strengthening and improving the
health care in nurseries and kindergartens, and formulated special
regulations to prevent and treat diseases such as infantile paralysis,
smallpox, diphtheria and tuberculosis. China enjoys a relatively
high rate of health care for children and of schooling for school-age
children compared with other developing countries. The rate of inoculated
children in China has almost reached the average level of developed
However, China is still a developing country which is marked for
its backward economic and cultural development, and much remains
to be done to further expand the people's economic, cultural and
social rights. In the Ten-Year Program for the National Economy
and Social Development (1991-2000), concrete targets and measures
are set forth for the further improvement of the people's economic,
cultural and social rights.