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China Urges Support for Different Modes of Human Rights Development
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Chinese officials on Wednesday called for international support for the country's efforts to ensure human rights for its citizens, stressing that different modes of rights development should be respected.

"With varied social systems, levels of development and historical and cultural backgrounds, different nations have different modes of human rights development, and we should respect such diversity," said Cai Wu, director of Information Office of State Council, at an ongoing international human rights protection forum in Beijing.

The three-day symposium held by China Society for Human Rights Studies attracted more than 70 experts, scholars and officials from 19 countries and regions.

Cai said that since the founding of New China, particularly after the economic reform in 1970s, the government had striven to protecting its people's rights, gradually instilling international human rights principles into the harsh reality of Chinese society.

The standard of socioeconomic development had risen continuously, with an annual economic growth rate of more than nine percent, and the per capita gross domestic product up from 226 U.S. dollars to more than 1,700 U.S. dollars, Cai said.

He said the population under poverty line had shrunk from 250 million to 23 million, and rising living standards ensured people had enough food and clothing and would generally become affluent.

"These have given unprecedented guarantees for the Chinese people's rights to subsistence and development, and laid a solid foundation for safeguarding political, economic, cultural and social rights," Cai said.

"An historic progress has been achieved in China's human rights."

Chinese officials and rights experts have repeatedly said China's concept of human rights places more weight on the collective, specifically, state sovereignty, rights of subsistence and development of the people as a whole, while Western concepts give priority to the rights of the individual.

Dong Yunhu, vice chairman of the China Society for Human Rights Studies said the differences largely stemmed from different historical backgrounds.

Western human rights concepts developed in the wake of calls to confront monarchies, religious authorities and feudal hierarchies after the Renaissance. "Therefore individual and political rights came at the top of the human rights agenda," he added.

"China's recent history, however, involves cruel imperial invasion," Dong said. "Imperialism caused a humanitarian crisis in China so human rights calls came with the liberation of Chinese people and the founding of a people's republic.

In dialogue on human rights issues with other countries, Cai said, China stood for the principle of agreeing to differ and drawing experience from one another, and respecting different choices of rights development.

The common development of the global economy was essential to realize human rights, and exchanges and cooperation between nations were vital to promote their progress, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2006)


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