I. Guarantee of Children's Rights and Interests
Children are the future and hope of mankind. Today's children will be masters of the 21st century. Children's survival, protection and development, which are the basis for improving the quality of the population and the prerequisite conditions for the advance of mankind, directly concern a country and a nation's future and destiny. The Chinese nation has long cultivated the traditional virtues of ``bringing along the young'' and ``loving the young.'' An old saying, ``Love our own and others' children,'' is still very popular. The Chinese Government, with an earnest and responsible attitude, always shows great concern for children's survival, protection and development. It regards ``the education of children to improve the quality of the whole people'' as a fundamental policy for its socialist modernization program. The government educates society at large to ``protect and educate children, and set an example and do practical things for children.'' It spares no effort to create favorable social conditions for the progress of children's programs. Since the initiation of reform and opening to the outside world, children's programs in China have moved into social, scientific and legal tracks; and children's programs have become an important component part of the nation's construction and the duties of the whole society.
Children's Programs for the 21st Century
On February 16, 1992, the Chinese Government formally promulgated the Outline of the Program for Chinese Children's Development in the 1990s. The formulation of this program fully displays the Chinese Government's earnest and responsible attitude toward, and its concern for, the work impacting children. In accordance with the tasks and general objectives proposed by the Ten-Year Program for China's National Economic and Social Development and the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1991-95), the spirit of the two documents adopted by the Summit Conference on the Issue of World Children, as well as China's actual children's programs, the Outline, having the world, the future and China's modernization program in view, puts forward ten main objectives and tactics and measures for realizing these objectives. It states that the mortality rate of infants and that of children under five in 1990 will both be reduced by one third, and that disease occurrence in children under five caused by moderate and severe malnutrition will drop by 50 percent in 2000. All of the 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government in China have worked out development programs for children in light of the Outline and their respective local conditions. The measures and work for implementing the Outline are carried out in a down-to-earth and effective way throughout the country.
Protection Through Legislation
For many years, China has striven to protect children's legitimate rights and interests through legislation, endeavoring to place such protection on a legal and normal footing. In accordance with the actual conditions in China and by reference to relative legislation in other countries, especially to the laws and international documents on the protection of children's rights and interests, China has worked out a series of laws concerning children's survival, protection and development. With the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as the core, these provisions include the Criminal Law, the General Principles of Civil Law, the Marriage Law, the Education Law, the Compulsory Education Law, the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, the Law on the Protection of Juveniles, the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, the Law on Health Protection of Mothers and Infants, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, and the Law on Adoption, in addition to a great number of other relevant regulations and measures. Hence a fairly complete legal system for the protection of children's rights and interests has been formed.
The Constitution of China clearly specifies: ``The state promotes the all-round moral, intellectual and physical development of children and young people,'' ``... child are protected by the state,'' and ``maltreatment of ... children is prohibited.'' Formulated according to the Constitution, China's relevant laws include comprehensive and systematic provisions on children's right to life, survival and development, as well as basic health and health care. Provisions also address children's family environment and substitutional care, education, free time and cultural activities and the special protection of disabled children. It is specified that criminal acts, such as maltreating, abandoning and deliberately killing children, as well as stealing, abducting and trafficking, kidnaping, selling and buying in children, should be severely punished. In addition, China's Constitution, laws and relevant administrative legislation also include comparatively complete provisions on the government's functions, the society's participation, work principles and corresponding legal responsibilities in the protection of children's rights and interests. From these it can be clearly seen that China's legal framework for the protection of children's rights and interests and its social guarantee mechanisms are effective in practice.
China's judicial procedure attaches great importance to the protection of juveniles' legal rights and interests, on which there are many important laws containing special provisions. To the juveniles who break the law and commit crimes, China adopts the policy of education, help and reform and adheres to the principle of relying mainly on education while making punishment subsidiary. While handling criminal cases concerning juve"iniles, public security organs, people's procuratorates and people's courts take full consideration of juveniles' physical and mental characteristics, respect their personality and dignity, and safeguard their legal rights and interests. Before criminals are tried, public security organs, people's procuratorates, people's courts and judicial administrative organs detain juveniles separately from adults; and juveniles who serve a sentence decided by the people's court are separately imprisoned from adult criminals and are treated differently. All criminal cases of persons aged 14 and 15 are not tried publicly by the people's court; and in general, criminal cases of persons aged 16 and 17 are not tried publicly. Before a criminal case of a teenager is judged, it is stipulated that the press, films, TV programs and public publications should not reveal the teenager's name, home address, photo and other identifying data.
To truly protect children's rights and interests, China's legislation, judicial and government departments concerned as well as mass organizations have set up corresponding mechanisms to supervise, effect and propel the healthy development of the work impacting children's protection.
As the highest organ of state power in China, the National People's Congress (NPC) has a Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs responsible for legislation for the protection of women and children's rights and interests and for the supervision and check-up of law enforcement. This committee has a special group for women and children staed with full-time working personnel. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has a Subcommittee on Social and Legislative Aairs, one of whose responsibilities is to supervise and promote the implementation of the state's laws and regulations on women, youth and children and raise proposals on work in this regard to the state's legislation and administrative departments.
The State Council of China has set up the Work Committee for Women and Children, which consists of responsible persons from the concerned government departments and mass organizations, and a state councilor who serves as chairperson. This committee has as its tasks to coordinate and promote the governmental departments concerned with implementing the Outline of the Program for Chinese Children's Development in the 1990s; and harmonize and propel these departments to do practical things for women and children. Both the central and local government departments involving education, pub"ilic health, culture, public security, physical culture and civil administration have set up functional organs to take charge of the work for children. The provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have set up committees on women and children's aairs or juvenile protection committees to organize and guide the work of protecting local children's rights and interests. Some mass organizations also perform many tasks to guarantee the development of the work concerning children in China.
To promote international cooperation in the protection of children, the Chinese Government and society at large have taken an active part in global and regional international cooperation and exchanges regarding children's survival, protection and development while devoting themselves to this cause in a down-to-earth and effective manner. In recent years, China has achieved great success through cooperating with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in its work to protect children. In this regard, China has been highly praised by international organizations and authoritative persons in the child protection field.
Chinese Premier Li Peng, on behalf of the Chinese Government, signed the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s (both adopted by the World Summit for Children in 1990), which represent a solemn promise made to several hundred million Chinese children as well as to the international community. China actively participated in working out the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. When the convention was examined and approved at the 44th Session of the UN General Assembly in 1989, China was one of the co-sponsor countries that raised the draft resolution for the approval of the convention. On December 29, 1990, China formally signed the convention. The following year, the NPC approved the convention, which formally became effective in China as of April 1, 1992. The convention is a universally applicable standard worked out by the international community for the protection of children's rights. The Chinese Government has undertaken and conscientiously fullled the obligations specied in the convention.