The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top Legislature, ratified Wednesday the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Following the ratification, the lawmaking body issued a statement, announcing that the Chinese government will deal with Item I(a) of Article Eight of the covenant in line with relevant provisions of China's Constitution, Trade Union Law and Labor Law.
Item I(a) of Article Eight of the covenant concerns the laborers' right to organize and join trade unions. Since the founding of the new China, Chinese people have always organized and joined trade unions in line with China's laws and the practice will continue to be observed.
The statement also says that the signing of the covenant by the Taiwan authorities in the name of China on October 16, 1966 is "illegal and ineffective."
According to the statement, the covenant will be observed in Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions (SAR) in line with the basic laws and relevant regulations of the two SARs.
Zeng Jianhui, chairman of the Ninth NPC Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the Chinese government has always abided by the general principles of the international norms on human rights, and it has exerted every effort to improve and protect the rights and freedom of Chinese citizens. It has also actively promoted dialogue, exchange and cooperation in the international community in the field of human rights.
The NPC Standing Committee has reviewed the covenant for three rounds and finally ratified it today, which demonstrates China's efforts in protecting human rights as well as its cooperation in the field of human rights, he said.
Zeng pointed out that some western countries have spent a longer time approving the covenant. For instance, Britain spent eight years, Italy 11 years and Belgium 15 years. The United States, however, has not yet ratified the covenant though it has signed it 24 years ago.
"The Chinese government signed the covenant in October 1997, and it took merely three years and four months for China to approve it," Zeng noted.
Zeng also pointed out that the main contents of the convention are consistent with China's relevant laws, regulations practices as well as its objectives of reform, opening up and building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The lawmaker said that China's Constitution has stipulated a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, and in recent years, China has promulgated a series of laws and regulations further safeguarding citizens' rights in these aspects.
The covenant, adopted by the United Nations on December 26, 1966, is one of the most substantial international instruments on human rights.
Another covenant on human rights titled "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" signed by the Chinese government is still awaiting a final ratification.