X. Working Hard to Promote the Healthy
Development of International Human Rights Activities
China respects the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations related to the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In recent years China has, as always, actively supported and participated in international activities in the human rights field and has made new efforts to promote the healthy development of international human rights since the cold war.
In April 1994 Qian Qichen, Vice-Premier and concurrently Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese government, reiterated while meeting with the former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, "China respects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Proclamation of Teheran, the Declaration on the Right to Development and other international documents related to human rights" and "will, as always, make a joint effort with the international community to further strengthen international cooperation in the sphere of human rights."
China takes an active part in UN activities in the human rights field. In recent years China has consecutively been reelected a member of the UN Human Rights Commission and sends a delegation to the commission's annual session. The human rights experts recommended by China have continually been elected members of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. China sends observers to the annual session held by the subcommission. In addition, China has successively been elected a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and Chinese experts have continually been elected members of the UN Commission on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. China has many times sent delegations or officials to attend various conferences on human rights sponsored by the United Nations. In the aforementioned bodies and sessions China always conscientiously performs its duty, actively participates in the examination and discussion of subjects on human rights, and elaborates its views, making its contributions to constantly enriching the connotation of human rights and promoting universal respect for human rights.
With an active and constructive attitude China took part in the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993. From beginning to end, China participated in the preparatory work of the conference, attended the four preparatory meetings held by the United Nations and the Asian Regional Preparatory Meeting, and served as vice-chairman of the First Preparatory Meeting, the Asian Regional Preparatory Meeting and the World Conference on Human Rights, thus playing an important role in the conference's preparation and success. At the Asian Regional Preparatory Meeting China, along with other Asian countries, made an active effort to reach agreement on the Bangkok Declaration and systematically elaborate the basic position of the Asian countries on human rights. During the World Conference on Human Rights China actively made clear its position and frankly and sincerely exchanged opinions with the countries attending the conference. Together with other countries, China resolutely resisted and opposed the rude and unreasonable attitudes and actions of a small number of Western countries that provoked confrontation and forced their views on others, trying to hinder the smooth progress of the conference. During consultations over the conference's final documents the Chinese government delegation put forward many constructive plans and suggestions and handled and coordinated the problems and contradictions that occurred during the drafting of documents on the basis of adhering to principle and, with a flexible and cooperative attitude, taking the situation as a whole into account, thus helping all countries to reach unanimity through consultation and achieve the smooth adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.
China always supports the efforts of the United Nations to improve the status of women and promote equality between men and women. China successfully held the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and the '95 Nongovernmental Organizations Forum in Beijing in September 1995, thus contributing to the progress of the world's women and to the realization of women's human rights. It was the largest international conference since the founding of the United Nations. More than 46,000 people from 197 countries and regions gathered at Beijing and heatedly discussed various subjects concerning women with the theme of "equality, development and peace" as the core. Chen Muhua, head of the Chinese government delegation and Vice-Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, was elected chairwoman of the conference. The Chinese delegation took an active part in the discussion of various subjects during the conference and expounded its opinions on the strategy to improve the status of women and promote equality between men and women and on some important international issues, making its own contributions to the adoption at the conference of the Beijing Declaration and the Program for Action, of important historical significance. The Chinese government performed its duties as the host country in great earnest, actively cooperated with the UN organizations, all governments and the nongovernmental organizations concerned, put in huge human, material and financial resources, and mobilized people all over the country and women from all walks of life to make tremendous efforts for the preparation and convening of the conference, to guarantee the great success of the conference. Hence China won popular praise from the international community. UN Under-Secretary-General Kitani said that the conference, which laid the foundation for a new era of relations between China and the United Nations, was a milestone in the UN women's history.
Up to now China has ratified and acceded to 15 international human rights conventions, including the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and their two Additional Protocols, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crimes of Apartheid, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of Children and the Convention Concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value. The Chinese government has earnestly performed its obligations prescribed in the conventions it has acceded to, strictly implemented the stipulations of the conventions through legislative, judicial and administrative measures and submitted reports on implementation of the related conventions on time.
In accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, China has extensively conducted cooperation and exchanges in the international human rights field. The Chinese government actively cooperates with the United Nations. As to various letters and documents forwarded to China by the UN Center for Human Rights and special reports, the Chinese government has made serious and responsible investigations and given timely replies by elaborating facts, views and opinions.
It is normal for countries to have a different understanding and practice of human rights owing to varied historical, social, economic and cultural conditions. To strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation among countries in terms of human rights, China actively advocates and holds dialogues and exchanges in the sphere of human rights. In recent years, when meeting heads of foreign states and governments and relevant personages, Chinese leaders have held constructive discussions with them on the issue of human rights. China has conducted multi-round dialogues with many Western countries on the issue of human rights and has invited human rights officials and experts from many countries to visit China. China has also sent delegations to some countries to exchange opinions and views on issues of international human rights.
China has supported the United Nations in actively promoting the healthy development of activities in the international human rights field since the cold war in accordance with the purposes and principles prescribed by the Charter of the United Nations. Since the end of the cold war extensive and profound changes have taken place in the international situation. The people in the world, especially the people in developing countries, eagerly hope that international human rights will break away from the shadow of political confrontations of the cold war and follow the correct road of equal cooperation. However, some large Western countries stubbornly adhere to the modes of thinking of the cold war period to inject politics and ideology into the issue of human rights. On the international stage they take human rights as a means to compel developing countries to submit and a means to pursue hegemony and power politics, encouraging political confrontations in the human rights field. In view of this abnormal phenomenon in the international human rights field, China upholds principle and makes unremitting efforts to promote human rights, safeguard sovereignty and oppose hegemony, together with vast numbers of developing countries.
In the last few years the United States and some other Western countries have made unwarranted charges against the internal affairs of some developing countries and put various pressures on them at some international conferences. China has spoken out from a sense of justice, resolutely resisted and opposed their acts poisoning the international cooperative atmosphere in the human rights field, and supported the struggles of developing countries to safeguard their own rights and interests.
Since 1990 the United States and some other Western countries, disregarding China's political stability, economic development, social progress, daily perfection of democracy and the legal system and constant improvement of people's living standards, have concocted five anti-China proposals, wantonly interfering in China's internal affairs by trying to change China's development path and social system through sabotaging its stability and preventing it from going forward. They have gone everywhere to sell their ideas and impose pressure from various aspects, so as to reach their sinister political purposes. However, under the resolute opposition and resistance of China, the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and other countries that support justice, all five anti-China plots of the West have failed. It is a victory not only for China, but also for the vast number of developing countries and international justice forces in defending the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
China considers that the realization of human rights cannot be separated from world peace and development. Peace and development are two major subjects in the current world, as well as indispensable prerequisites for the universal realization of human rights and basic freedoms. Without a peaceful and safe international environment and without a just and reasonable international economic order, it will be impossible to realize extensive human rights. So long as the international community integrates the promotion of human rights with defense of world peace and the accelerated progress of mankind and advances them in a systematic way, it can make sustained and effective progress.
At present the world is in a historical era when a new century is coming and old world patterns are being replaced by new ones. What kind of world will enter the 21st century is an important issue of great concern to the international community. Since the end of the cold war some positive changes have taken place in international relations; meanwhile, many regional conflicts and complex and profound contradictions have broken out. Hegemony, power politics and unfair economic order still exist, imperiling world peace and development and hindering the realization of human rights and basic freedoms. China is willing, together with the international community, to make continual, unremitting efforts to bring a world of peace, stability, economic development and universally enjoyed human rights into the 21st century.