Legislators Approve Covenant on Rights

Top legislators yesterday approved the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights signed by the Chinese Government in 1997.

The Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body, gave the green light to the covenant after the third round of deliberations during its 20th session, which closed yesterday in Beijing.

"China will take legislative, judicial and administrative measures to carry out the rights and obligations in the covenant," said Li Peng, chairman of the Ninth NPC Standing Committee.

The covenant was adopted by the United Nations on December 26, 1966, and went in force on January 3, 1976.

It seeks to promote and protect the right to work in just and favorable conditions; the right to social protection; to an adequate standard of living and to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being; and the right to education and the enjoyment of benefits of cultural freedom and scientific progress.

The lawmakers had already reviewed the covenant in 1998 and last October.

The Chinese Government will implement the obligations concerning trade unions prescribed in the covenant according to the stipulations of the Chinese Constitution, the Trade Union Law and the Labor Law, according to a statement issued by the top lawmaking body.

This practice is in line with the covenant, says the statement.

In accordance with basic laws on Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, the covenant will be implemented in the two regions through their local laws, says the statement.

It also says that the signing of the convention by the Taiwan authorities in the name of China in 1967 is "illegal and ineffective."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue yesterday said the ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights fully reflected China's consistent stance on promoting and protecting human rights and actively developing international co-operation in the area.

The NPC session also endorsed the amendments to the laws on pharmaceutical administration and regional autonomy of ethnic minorities, as well as the appointment of two new ministers.

Li Rongrong became minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, replacing Sheng Huaren. Xu Guanhua was promoted from vice-minister to minister of science and technology, replacing Zhu Lilan.

(China Daily 03/01/2001)