Signing Underlines Nation's Resolve

The ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights fully demonstrates that China's attitude on the adoption of the international covenants of human rights is positive and prudent.

Zhou Jue, president of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, made this remark Thursday after the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress ratified the covenant on Wednesday.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights covers the right to just and favourable work conditions, social protection, education, health care and cultural freedom.

"The covenant confirms the basic human rights, such as people's rights to subsistence and development," Zhou said. "To some degree, it reflects the demands and nature of human rights in developing countries."

To ratify the covenant is in accordance with China's stance of promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights and putting people's rights to subsistence and development in first place.

"China's ratification of the covenant not only underlines its desire to propel and protect the healthy development of human rights worldwide, but also shows the government's strong confidence and firm determination to guarantee its civilians' enjoyment of a variety of human rights and fundamental freedoms," Zhou said.

"China has internationally acknowledged new achievements in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights," the president said.

In the past years, China's economy has developed rapidly and is very healthy and is sustainable; reforms have been deepened constantly and China has witnessed all-round social progress, Zhou said.

The living standard has generally improved with two historical transitions, first from being poor to having adequate food and clothing, then from having adequate food and clothing to being comparatively well-off, he said.

In response to China Daily's question why China gave the green light to the covenant three years after it signed the pact, Zhou said that although the spirit and content of the pact are in line with China's Constitution, laws, policies and practices, time was needed to probe the fine points of the articles.

Also, in-depth and wide studies were needed before China approved the covenant, which would have a comprehensive impact on the life of the people and the country.

"The United States still has not ratified the covenant though the US government signed it 24 years ago, while it only took China three years to ratify it," Zhou added.

"I believe the Chinese government will continue to adopt more legislative, judicial and administrative measures to guarantee that Chinese people enjoy the human rights prescribed by the covenant."

To date, the Chinese government has approved or signed 18 international covenants on human rights.

(China Daily 03/02/2001)

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