I. Overall Implementation
China's human rights cause saw extraordinary development during the four years from 2012 to 2015. While striving to realize the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the Chinese government combined its human rights endeavors with economic, political, cultural, social and ecological construction in accordance with its strategic blueprint to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, comprehensively deepen reform, advance the law-based governance and strengthen Party self-discipline. It has taken various steps to strengthen the protection of human rights and worked strenuously to achieve the main targets and tasks set by the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015), advancing the cause of human rights in China to a new stage.
-- Sticking to the vision of people-centered development, speeding up the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and ensuring people's economic, social and cultural rights
From 2012 to 2015, faced with a complex international situation and the challenging tasks of promoting reform and development while maintaining stability at home, the Chinese government stuck to the new vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, actively adapted to and promoted the 'new normal' in economic development, and made unceasing efforts to deepen reform and opening-up. It stuck to the policy of maintaining stable growth, promoting reform, making structural adjustments, improving people's lives and guarding against risks to push for more efficient, fairer and more sustainable growth. It also worked to ensure that all people can enjoy the dividend of reform and development and that they gain an increasingly greater sense of benefit.
From 2012 to 2015, China's GDP grew at an average annual rate of 7.4 percent. The per capita disposable income of urban residents increased by 7.5 percent annually while the per capita net income for rural residents increased by 9.2 percent annually. The registered urban unemployment rate was kept within 4.1 percent. 66.63 million people in rural areas were lifted out of poverty. The number of permanent urban residents has increased to account for 56.1 percent of the total population. 24.28 million government-subsidized housing units were basically completed in urban areas. Basic medical insurance was expanded to cover over 95 percent of the population and participation in basic old-age insurance plans exceeded 80 percent. A public service system was basically completed and equal access to education was better enforced. The overall health conditions of the population improved notably. Internet construction accelerated, allowing citizens easier access to enjoy their cultural rights. Greater efforts were made to improve the environment and new progress was achieved in ecological conservation. The rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities have been further guaranteed.
-- Building a socialist law-based country, striving to modernize the state governance system and governance capacity and guaranteeing citizens' civil and political rights
The socialist democracy was steadily moved forward. Efforts were accelerated to increase government transparency and expand the application of e-government and online administration. Citizens' rights to be informed, to participate, to be heard and to oversee were guaranteed. Further efforts were made to streamline administration and delegate powers. A power list system was established. From 2014 to 2015, the government delegated the power or canceled the requirement for government review for 557 items; canceled the requirement for verification or approval for 272 professional qualifications; and put a complete stop to the practice of non-administrative review and approval. It improved regulations governing the ruling party and punished corruption and job-related crimes, creating a sound political and legal environment for the protection of human rights.
Efforts were made to deepen the reform of the judicial system, to optimize the allocation of judicial powers, to improve the system of judicial responsibilities and to promote judicial transparency. The system of legal proceedings was revised and improved and the legal principles were strictly implemented to ensure legally prescribed punishment for a crime, innocence until proven guilty and the exclusion of illegal evidence. Stringent efforts were made to guarantee lawyers' rights to perform their duties and to guard against and rectify wrong or false convictions. Guarantees were in place to ensure that judicial organs can perform their duties independently and justly in accordance with the law. Citizens' rights of the person and rights to a fair trial were protected in accordance with the law to ensure that they can feel fairness and justice in every judicial case.
-- Upholding core socialist values, promoting human rights theory research and human rights education, and striving to improve the public's awareness to respect and protect human rights
The ideas of prosperity, democracy, civilization, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship were actively promoted for the whole society so as to nurture and practice core socialist values. These values are the common aspirations and spiritual prop of the Chinese people. They define the basic requirements and development direction of socialism with Chinese characteristics and play an important role in guiding and leading the development of China's human rights cause.
Human rights education and training were conducted in various forms to promote the ideas about human rights and to spread the knowledge on human rights. Human rights and legal education were incorporated into the campaign to increase the public's knowledge of the law, school education and specialized education. The level of access and specialization of human rights education has been steadily raised. Human rights and legal education for leading officials and public office holders were enhanced, with the State Council Information Office holding multiple training sessions on human rights. Higher education institutions were encouraged to open human rights courses and to train personnel and five new "national-level human rights education and training bases" were set up, completing the tasks set by the Action Plan ahead of schedule. Academic research on human rights was actively conducted and fruitful results were achieved on the research on human rights theories with Chinese characteristics.
-- Conducting international exchanges and cooperation on human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect, faithfully fulfilling obligations under international human rights conventions, promoting the healthy development of international human rights endeavors
From 2012 to 2015, China continued to earnestly fulfill its obligations under the international human rights conventions to which it is a signatory and held constructive dialogue with relevant treaty bodies on China's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. China participated and passed the second round of the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review. It took an active part in multilateral human rights meetings hosted by the Third Committee of UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. China and UN Women jointly held the Global Leaders' Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
From 2012 to 2015, China held over 20 human rights dialogues and exchanges with the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and others. It conducted more than 10 human rights consultations and exchanges with countries including Russia, Brazil, Pakistan and Cuba. The China Society for Human Rights Studies and the China Foundation for Human Rights Development jointly hosted four meetings of the Beijing Forum on Human Rights.
With the joint efforts of the Chinese government and its people from all ethnic groups, major targets and tasks set by the Action Plan had been fulfilled as scheduled by the end of 2015. Of these, about 48 percent of the binding targets and over 50 percent of the targets concerning the people's livelihood had been met ahead of time or exceeded, thus realizing the comprehensive implementation of the Action Plan.
Besides the binding targets stipulated in the Action Plan, the Chinese government actively responded to hot issues and peoples' complaints and made extra efforts to strengthen the protection of human rights. Starting in 2012, restrictions on students taking national college entrance exams in places where their parents work and live were gradually lifted and their rights to education were further enhanced. In December 2013, the reeducation through labor system was abolished. In August 2015, four categories of criminals serving their prison terms were pardoned under an amnesty and Amendment IX to the Criminal Law was deliberated and passed. The amendment abolished the death penalty for 9 crimes, reducing the number of crimes where the death penalty is applicable from 55 to 46.
The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government incorporated the principle of universality of human rights into China's national conditions and substantially improved protection of people's rights to subsistence and development, promoted the coordinated development of economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, successfully charting a path of human rights development suiting China's national conditions. The fulfilling of the Action Plan as scheduled fully demonstrates the commitment and confidence of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government to promote the development of the human rights cause in a coordinated and orderly way and the huge advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.
There is no best, only better human rights protection. The Chinese government is keenly aware it still faces many challenges despite China's tremendous achievements in the development of human rights. Its economic development mode is still crude and it is still fraught with problems from unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development. There is still a big gap between urban and rural development. There are still problems of immediate concern to the people remaining to be solved, including medical care, education, old age care, food and drug safety, income distribution and the environment. The corruption and misconduct in some sectors cannot be ignored. There is still a long way to go to realize higher-level protection of human rights in China and hard efforts must be made.
In a congratulatory letter to the Beijing Forum on Human Rights in September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that the Chinese people have gone through much suffering and know very well the great significance of human value, basic human rights and human dignity to social development and progress. It is a common objective of the human society for people to fully enjoy human rights. China will steadfastly advance the human rights cause both in China and the rest of the world and work to make greater contribution to the advancement of human civilization.