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China Reports Progress in Human Rights
China has made tremendous progress in its human rights cause over the past 13 years, said the Human Rights magazine launched by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, in an article.

Entitled "Development of China's Human Rights Cause in the Past 13 Years", the article cited a great number of statistics and facts to prove the achievements in the human rights cause.

China has scored a sustainable, rapid development in its national economy and achieved a notable improvement in ensuring the rights to subsistence and development, said the article.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) has since 1989 grown at an annual average rate of 9.3 percent. In 2002, China's GDP broke the 10 trillion yuan (about US$1.21 trillion) mark for the first time, making China the sixth greatest economic power in the world. The figure was six times as great as for 1989.

Thanks to the development momentum of its national economy and the constant improvement in its investment environment, China has become increasingly attractive to investors from all over the world.

China had an inflow of US$51 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) last year, replacing the United States as the greatest FDI recipient among all countries in the world, said the article.

Big increases have also been registered in incomes of China's urban and rural residents, resulting in significantly increased consumption and improved quality of life, said the article.

From 1990 to 2001, the per capita net incomes for the rural residents registered a real increase of 62 percent, and the disposable incomes for the urban residents more than doubled.

Back in 1989, consumption was meant primarily to meet the basic needs of the people, whose spending went first of all to food, followed by clothing and housing.

Spending by residents on self-improvement and enjoyment of life has grown year after year. Computers and private cars have found their way into people's homes in increasing numbers.

The state has attached great importance to helping underdeveloped regions in their endeavor to shake off poverty through development and to assisting citizens living below the poverty line to improve their living standard.

In 2001, a total of 29 million rural residents, or 3.2 percent of the country's total rural population, were classified as poverty stricken, 73 million less than in 1989.

The article said China has made active efforts to promote political civilization, and the civil and political rights of citizens have been guaranteed in an effective way.

In China, all powers belong to the people. The Chinese people exercise the state power through the National People's Congress (NPC) and local people's congresses at different levels.

During the ten-year period for the terms of the Eighth and Ninth NPC, delegations and individual deputies forwarded 8,108 motions and 26,384 proposals, complaints and recommendations.

The NPC and local people's congresses have constantly intensified their supervision over implementation of laws and government work.

In striving to improve the system of democracy and legality, China has accelerated the process of law-making over the past 13 years. In line with the principle of running the country in accordance with the law, the NPC and the NPC Standing Committee have formulated 125 new laws, which account for 62.5 percent of the total currently in force.

Importance has always been attached to protection of citizens' rights in the process of law-making. A series of laws has been promulgated to this effect, including the Organic Law of the Urban Residents' Committees, the Organic Law of the Villagers' Committees, the Trade Union Law, the law on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations, and the Copyright Law.

Multi-political party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is a basic political system in China. It entered the Constitution in 1993 to represent the will of the state.

Grass-root democracy in China has experienced an unprecedented development. By 2002, four re-elections of villagers' committees had taken place in most Chinese provinces, with a voter turnout exceeding 80 percent in general.

This kind of self-government features democratic election of village leaders, decision-making through a democratic process, democratic management of public affairs and democratic supervision over work of village leaders and public budgets. It has filled the rural population with a soaring political enthusiasm and protected democratic rights of farmers.

Also thriving is urban grass-root democracy. Self-government by communities in Chinese cities and urban towns has become especially popular since 1998.

Residents in a given urban community are able not only to select their own leaders through direct election, but also comment on work of civil servants and government departments in general. In short, community autonomy has enriched urban grass-root democracy and made it diverse in form.

To sum up, Chinese citizens in either towns or countryside are enjoying broad democratic rights.

China is a multi-religion country, with a total of 100 million religious believers. It pursues the policy or principle that calls for respect for religious beliefs and independence of religious believers in running religious affairs.

The various religions are equal in status and their respective believers are able to join hands in striving for mutual development, and little religious strife has occurred. Religious believers and non-believers are locked up in mutual respect, and are able to live side by side in harmony.

The article also said China has been strict with law enforcement, and its judicial organs have been carrying out duties according to the principle of fairness, and have made breakthrough progress in judicial protection of human rights.

In the past 13 years, public security and judicial departments have, in accordance with the law, dealt severe blows on crimes, and a nationwide campaign has been launched to consolidate the market order, and the people's procuratorates at different levels have improved their work related to criminal prosecution.

China has been persisting in placing equal emphasis on cracking down on crimes and safeguarding human rights, and has scored notable achievements in judicial reform under the principle of "justice and fairness". Efforts have been made to ensure that administrative law enforcement is carried out as an institutional practice, by following procedures prescribed in relevant laws and in accordance with the laws applicable to the specific cases. Improvement and development were also made in the system of lawyers and legal assistance in China.

The article said in the past 13 years, the Chinese government regarded employment as vital to the people's livelihood and has always taken the issue of ensuring employment and social insurance as a task of strategic importance to be accomplished through national economic and social development. To this end, it has adopted a series of measures and has achieved remarkable successes.

Employment has increased rapidly. China's employment reform has progressed smoothly, coupled with formation of a new kind of relationship of labor in the country.

Some 650 million people were employed in 1990 and by 2001, the figure had grown to 730 million, a net increase of 83 million. The rate of registered urban unemployment was around 3 percent for the most of these years. In 2002, the government was able to limit the rate of registered urban unemployment to 4 percent.

The state follows a proactive employment policy under which work has been done to appropriately readjust the employment structure. As a result, a market-oriented employment system is now in place by and large.

The state has intensified the reform of the system for social security to make it conform to requirements of the market economic system, strengthened the management of social security funds and encouraged supervision by society over their use, and introduced a wide range of measures to increase the source of social security funds, along with the establishment of a social security system featuring distinct Chinese characteristics.

Up to now, the minimum subsistence guarantee system for urban residents has been implemented in all cities and major towns in the country, which has benefited 19.85 million people.

The article went on to say China has witnessed a rapid development of educational and cultural understandings and Chinese citizens have made obvious improvement in raising their educational and cultural levels.

In 2001, China had 1.35 million schools of different levels, with a combined enrollment of 320 million pupils and students. To put it another way, 26.6 percent of the Chinese were studying in the year, up from 22.2 percent in 1990.

In 2001, the length of schooling averaged 7.7 years for Chinese citizens at six and older, which was 2.4 years longer than for 1990.

Among every 100,000 Chinese citizens, 4,087 people had by 2001 received junior college education or education at even higher levels, nearly three times the figure for 1990.

The state has increased its input for education by large margins. The 2001 expenditures on education came to 463.766 billion yuan, six times the 1990 expenditures.

The past 13 years have also seen big progress made by China in developing the mass media and cultural undertakings. Cultural products have increased in quantity and kept improving in quality.

Conditions in mass cultural venues have improved greatly over the past 13 years. Literature, artistic and theatrical creations and performances have been thriving, and China's physical culture and sports, full of vigor. To sum up, Chinese people in both urban and rural areas are able to enjoy an increasingly rich, colorful cultural life.

The article said China has made particularly spectacular improvement in protection of women and children's rights. China has by now established a complete legal system for the protection of women's rights and promotion of women's development, which takes the Constitution as the basis and the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women as the core.

Progress has been made in work to ensure women's participation in discussion and management of state affairs. Of the delegates to the 16th CPC National Congress, 382 were women, accounting for 18 percent of the delegates.

Besides, there are women in leading bodies of the Party and government in all the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland.

At the end of 2001, women officials in the Party and government numbered 14.88 million, accounting for 36.7 percent of the national total. They were 4.06 million more than in 1990, representing a proportional increase of 5.8 percentage points.

The state attaches great importance to protecting women's equal right to employment and to access to resources. Women's rights and interests in work are effectively protected.

The average length of schooling for Chinese women has increased at a faster rate than for men, and the illiteracy rate for women has dropped faster than for men. Chinese women's health, in general, has improved constantly.

The article said China has stepped onto a new stage toward honoring rights and interests of the disabled, and has formed a social environment in which the disabled enjoy understanding, respect, attention and help.

In the past 13 years, China has introduced a host of major measures so that an improvement has been made in the system for protecting the legitimate rights of the disabled.

Significant results have been achieved in rehabilitation of the disabled, and special education has developed rapidly.

Before 1990, less than 10 percent of the physically or mentally handicapped children were able to go to school; by 2000, the figure had shot up to 77.2 percent.

The state makes positive efforts to help the disabled get employed as a part of the effort to protect their right to work.

Assistance to the disabled is included in all government plans for poverty alleviation. Disabled citizens, in fact, are taken as constituting a priority group under such plans.

With assistance from the government and society, an aggregate total of 11.11 million disabled rural residents had, by the end of2001, shaken off poverty. Disabled people in cities who live below the poverty line are entitled to a subsistence allowance provided by the state.

Some 2.01 million disabled people in cities and urban towns were receiving a subsistence allowance and 530,000 others were able to benefit from the social insurance programs.

The article said the Chinese government has always attached great importance to protecting the rights of equality of the country's ethnic minority groups and their rights and interests that are special relative to those of the Han majority.

Ethnic minority groups and the ethnic majority Han group have equal rights in participating in the management of state affairs.

The state fully respects and protects the freedom of ethnic minority groups to religious beliefs, and protects all legitimate religious activities undertaken by their people.

Protection of ethnic minority groups' rights has become even more institutionalized under an even more complete legal system over the past 13 years.

What merits special mention is the revision in February 2001 to the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional Ethnic Autonomy.

The revised law, upgrading the system of regional ethnic autonomy as part of the basic political system of China, has provisions on increase in the capital input to accelerate the development of regions under autonomy by people of ethnic minority groups.

The state policy calls for aid and assistance in the aspects such as capital, technologies, professional talents to the autonomous regions to promote their development and improve the living standards of their people.

Education in the five autonomous regions, too, has developed rapidly. The state set up in 1990 a fund to subsidize these regions in developing education.

In 2001, a total of 560,000 ethnic minority students were studying at universities and colleges, 189 percent more than in 1991. All the 55 ethnic minority groups, including those with a tiny population, now have their own youths studying at universities and colleges, and some of them even have people taking graduate or even doctoral courses.

Ethnic minority groups have been able to carry forward their cultural traditions. Since 1990, special funds have been allocated from both the central and local government budgets for construction of libraries, cultural centers, ethnic art centers, museums, theaters and cinemas. Radio and TV programs are aired, films dubbed, books, newspapers and magazines published in numerous ethnic minority languages, in addition to Internet websites in the Tibetan and Mongolian languages.

The central government has earmarked huge sums for restoration and repairs of sites of ethnic minority cultural heritage. Included are the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Ta'er (Kumbum) Monastery in Qinghai Province, which is the holiest shrine of the Yellow Sect of the Tibetan School of Buddhism. The three ethnic epics, the King of Gesar, Tsangg'er and Manas have been translated into Chinese and many foreign languages.

The state has taken pains to organize the collection, compilation, translation and research of these and other intangible cultural heritages.

In the most recent years, traditional ethnic cultures have developed even more greatly in step with the implementation of the state strategy for developing the western regions and the development of tourism there.

The article said that theoretical research on human rights undertaken in China over the past 13 years has experienced the fastest development in the Chinese history and been the most fruitful.

Through work over the past decade, Chinese researchers have built up a theoretical system on human rights, which is complete in nature and has distinct Chinese characteristics, said the article.

These years have also witnessed production of the most significant results through dialogue and exchange between China and foreign countries on human rights.

China has attended and organized numerous international human rights symposiums and meetings.

For better understanding and greater cooperation, Chinese leaders have on numerous occasions discussed human rights issues with leaders and other VIPs from foreign countries.

Since 1999, dialogues on human rights, either bilateral or multilateral, have been conducted, either on governmental or non-governmental basis, by China with countries including Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Japan and the United States, the European Union, and some international organizations.

Positive results were achieved through such dialogues. China initiated the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and has contributed to the strengthening of cooperation between the member countries in fighting against terrorism and protecting human rights.

(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2003)

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