III. Fully Developing Human Rights in All Respects
Over the past four decades since the launch of reform and opening up, China has taken all-round development of the human being as the intent and goal of human rights. It has made comprehensive progress in all human rights, ensured economic, social and cultural rights, and enhanced the mechanisms guaranteeing civil and political rights.
Significant improvement in people's lives. Between 1978 and 2017, China's GDP increased from RMB367.9 billion to RMB82.7 trillion and per capita GDP from RMB385 to RMB59,660, a 22.8-fold increase, or a real growth of 8.5 percent per year adjusted for inflation. Per capita gross national income rose from US$200 in 1978 to US$8,690 in 2017, above the average level of upper middle-income countries. The per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents grew from RMB343 and RMB134 in 1978 to RMB36,396 and RMB13,432 respectively in 2017. In 2017, national per capita consumer spending was RMB18,322, an 18-fold increase over 1978 or a real growth of 7.8 percent per year adjusted for inflation. The country is moving from a society based on subsistence to one based on plenty. The Engel coefficient of urban and rural households in 1978 was 57.5 percent and 67.7 percent, which fell to 28.6 percent and 31.2 percent respectively in 2017. China's human development index (HDI) value has risen significantly from 0.423 in 1980 to 0.752 in 2017, gradually moving into ranks of countries with higher HDI. Among the 47 bottom-ranked countries measured in 1990, China is the only one to have risen into the ranks of the "high human development" countries.
Increased protection of personal rights and right to dignity. The Constitution confirms citizens' right to dignity. The 19th CPC National Congress again emphasized the protection of personal rights, property rights and right to dignity, demonstrating the humane view of protecting dignity and promoting the all-round development of the human being. General Principles of the Civil Law and Tort Liability Law further establish the system of protection for right to dignity. "Civil rights" as one chapter is included in General Provisions of the Civil Law to elaborate right to dignity. In August 2018, right to dignity as an individual book was contained in the draft Civil Code.
China has abolished the detention and repatriation system and the reeducation through labor system. It is now accelerating the reform of the household registration system. In 2014, Decisions on Furthering the Household Registration Reform released by the State Council relaxed the restriction on the transfer of household registration (hukou), enabling eligible regular residents with stable employment in urban areas to localize their residency. In 2017, the urbanization rate of registered population stood at 42.35 percent, up 7 percentage points over 2012. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, more than 14 million people without hukou have completed household registration, basically bringing the entire population into the hukou system.
Inviolability of residence, freedom of correspondence and information security are fully protected by law. In 2017, the public security agencies launched special programs to handle cases involving invasion of personal information to effectively curb personal information leakage.
Legal protection of property. The Constitution stipulates that the private property of citizens is inviolable. The state protects citizens' property rights and right of inheritance by law, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of non-public commercial sectors such as the individual economy and private enterprise. The Property Law specifies that the property rights of the state, collectives, individuals and other legal persons are under the protection of law and shall not be infringed by any unit or individual.
The household contract responsibility system that entitles farmers to manage contracted public-owned land, implemented following reform and opening up, is the cornerstone of China's current rural land system. Since 2014, China has made solid efforts to confirm and register the management rights of contracted land, and to issue titles to land in rural areas. By June 2018, 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) had finished this work, with the total area of contracted land reaching 1.39 billion mu. A total of 189 million land contracts had been signed and improved, and 135 million titles had been issued. The 19th CPC National Congress stated that the land contract relationship should sustain for the foreseeable future, and should be extended for a further 30 years after the second round of contracts expires.
Effective protection of the right to work. China highlights employment in its economic and social development, advocating a jobs-first strategy and a more proactive employment policy to promote higher-quality jobs and maximum employment. As the economic structure is upgraded, reform of the employment system deepens, gradually putting in place an employment mechanism adapted to the socialist market economy. From 1978 to 2017, China's employed population increased from 401.52 million to 776.4 million. The average annual growth of 9.61 million is faster than total population growth. Since 2003, when a complete statistical system was put in place, the annual increase of new jobs in urban areas has been 11.78 million, and the registered urban unemployment rate has been low over many years, with the surveyed unemployment rate lower than the world average.
The average yearly income of urban employees rose from RMB615 in 1978 to RMB76,121 in 2017, an annual increase of 7.7 percent in real terms. The right of remuneration for labor, right to rest and leisure, right to occupational safety and health, special right of women workers and the right to participate in the democratic management of businesses are protected by law. The labor contract mechanism, the collective contract mechanism, and collective consultation are all being implemented. A government-trade union-enterprise tripartite coordination mechanism, a labor security supervision mechanism, and a labor dispute settlement mechanism have all been set up to protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers. In 2017, 90 percent of enterprise employees had signed labor contracts. A workplace safety and accident prevention and control system to protect laborers is being implemented and constantly improved.
Extended protection of the right to social security. China has built the largest-scale social security system covering the largest population of the world, raising the world social security coverage rate by 11 percentage points. By June 2018, 925 million people had been covered by basic endowment insurance, 191 million by unemployment insurance, and 230 million by work-related injury insurance. The basic medical insurance system providing basic medical insurance for urban workers, basic medical insurance for urban residents, and new-type rural cooperative medical insurance for rural population covers more than 1.3 billion people. A total of 1.15 billion people hold social security cards, representing 82.81 percent of the population.
China is comprehensively improving its social security system based on its economic and social development. It has raised the basic pension of company retirees every year since 2005. Per capita government subsidies for basic medical insurance for urban and rural residents rose from RMB240 in 2012 to RMB490 in 2018. China is improving its capability in offering social security services via information technology such as internet and big data. In 2016, a system was officially launched to provide for real-time settlement of medical expenses for treatment incurred outside the province where the patient resides through the social security card.
Marked improvement in the protection of the right to education. China has made great efforts in implementing the education-first strategy to modernize education and guarantee equal access to education for all. Government spending on education is targeted to be no lower than 4 percent of GDP. From 2012 to 2017, national expenditure on education totaled close to RMB21 trillion. The level of national education has significantly improved: The average years of schooling for those aged 15 and over rose from 5.3 in 1982 to 9.6 in 2017; the figure for the working-age population reached 10.5.
Rapid progress has been made in preschool education. In 2017, the total number of kindergartens stood at 255,000, an increase of 55.5 percent over 1978, with the gross enrollment rate reaching 79.6 percent. A Compulsory Education Law was formulated and then revised to extend the enforcement of nine-year compulsory education. In 2017, there were 219,000 public schools for compulsory education, accommodating 145 million students. The net enrollment rate of primary school-age children was 99.91 percent, the gross enrollment rate of middle school-age population was 103.5 percent, and the completion rate of compulsory education was 93.8 percent. The availability of compulsory education has reached the average level of high-income countries. Availability of senior secondary education in China is now basically universal. In 2017, there were 24,600 senior high schools nationwide, with a total of 39.71 million students on campus, an increase of 21.67 million over 1978. The rate of students entering high school was 94.9 percent, up 54 percentage points from 1978, and the gross enrollment rate of senior high school-age population was 88.3 percent, higher than the average level of mid-and high-income countries (86.7 percent). Higher education is developing vigorously. In 2017, there were 2,913 universities across the country, with 37.79 million students on campus, representing a gross enrollment rate of 45.7 percent of college-age population. A mass vocational education system has been built, contributing significantly to the popularity of high school education and higher education.
Full and effective protection of cultural rights. Government funding for cultural undertakings is increasing rapidly, from RMB444 million in 1978 to RMB85.58 billion in 2017, a yearly increase of 14.4 percent. The national public cultural service standards have been established, and the National Guiding Standards for Public Cultural Services (2015-2020) are being introduced. Many public cultural facilities have been opened to the public for free. In 2017, there were 3,166 public libraries nationwide, with 109 sq m of public library space per 10,000 people, an 11.1-fold increase over 1978. These public libraries contained 970 million volumes, and received 745 million visits. The total number of China's museums stood at 4,721 in 2017, a 12.5-fold increase over 1978. In 2017, they contained 36.62 million items, and received 970 million visitors.
Equal access to public cultural services is an important goal. By 2017, a total of 44,521 cultural centers and 340,560 comprehensive cultural service centers in villages and communities had been set up. Digital cultural services are a new innovation in providing public cultural services. In 2017, public libraries had more than 1 billion ebooks, 221,000 computers, and 144,300 electronic readers. By 2017, the total broadcasting network had covered 99.81 percent of the population, and 99.07 percent had had access to television; the database of the cultural information resources sharing project and the digital library promotion project had amounted to 700 terabytes. The Outline of the National Scheme for Scientific Literacy (2006-2010-2020) and the Benchmark for the Scientific Literacy of Chinese Citizens have been formulated to popularize science and improve the public's understanding and appreciation of science and culture.
Legal protection of the right to vote. The right to vote and to stand in elections is a basic right enshrined in the Constitution. China is committed to the development of socialist democracy and ensures that everyone is entitled to an equal right to vote. It has enacted electoral laws for the National People's Congress and local people's congresses, and organization laws for local people's congresses and governments. The principles of universality, equality, direct election, indirect election and competitive election are applied. The Constitution stipulates, "All citizens of the People's Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 shall have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of ethnic status, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status and length of residence. Persons who have been deprived of political rights in accordance with the law shall not have the right to vote and stand for election." China has amended electoral laws and improved the election system to gradually ensure that both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies from the represented population in elections of people's congress deputies, and all regions, ethnic groups and fields have a certain proportion of deputies. In the new elections to the people's congresses at county and township levels beginning in 2016, a total of 900 million constituents cast votes for more than 2.5 million deputies. The makeup of deputies to the National People's Congress is becoming more representative. Among the 2,980 deputies to the 13th National People's Congress in 2018 are 468 frontline workers and farmers, 613 professional and technical personnel, 742 women, and 438 representatives of ethnic minorities.
Orderly development is seen in community-level democracy. A community-level self-governance system is now in place featuring self-governance by urban and rural residents, and democratic election, consultation, decision-making, management and supervision. By 2017, more than nine rounds of villagers committee elections had been held among villages across the nation. More than 98 percent of these had been conducted by direct election, with more than 95 percent of villagers taking part. The participation rate of urban residents in the election of neighborhood committees exceeds 90 percent.
Full protection of the right to know. Platforms are being improved to make government more open. In 2004, the State Council released the Outline of Comprehensively Advancing Administration in Accordance with the Law, which promotes government transparency and requires administrative organs to disclose government information unless it relates to state secrets, trade secrets under legal protection, and individual privacy. The public is entitled to access disclosed government information, and administrative organs should support this access. In February 2016, the General Offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued Decisions on Comprehensively Promoting Government Transparency, which introduced a power list, a responsibility list, and a negative list and encouraged administration to move online. As a result, 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) have released the power lists of governments at provincial, prefectural and county levels. In 2015, all provinces disclosed their overall financial budgets, and in 2017, 105 central government departments disclosed their budgets.
By April 2017, 3,058 administration halls had been set up in local governments at and above the county level, covering 94.3 percent of administrations, and 38,513 service centers had been set up in townships and communities, covering 96.8 percent of administrations. Factory and village affairs are being made transparent. By September 2017, more than 5 million enterprises and public institutions with trade unions had set up congresses of workers and staff, and 1.39 million enterprises were covered by regional (trade) congresses of workers and staff. 4.87 million enterprises and public institutions with trade unions had adopted a system of disclosing information to their employees. By 2017, 95 percent of villages nationwide had made village affairs transparent, more than 94 percent of counties were providing catalogues of disclosed village information, and 91 percent of villages were making village affairs public on information boards.
Increased right to participate. The channels for public participation in legislation and major administrative decision-making are constantly broadening. A mechanism through which public opinion is consulted in drafting laws has been set up and improved. Since 2008, the state legislatures have solicited public opinion on 139 draft laws, receiving 2.46 million comments from 590,000 people. Since 2013, the government has released announcements inviting responses from the public and expanded channels and multiplied means for soliciting opinions in drawing up plans for the legislation work of the State Council. The citizens' right to participate in administrative decision-making has been protected by law. A mechanism in which decisions are made in accordance with the law has been improved, which recognizes public participation, expert discussion, risk assessment, legality review and collective discussion as legal procedures in major administrative decision-making. In this process, the effectiveness of public participation is emphasized, and the quality of expert discussion improved to make decision-making more scientific, democratic and law-based.
Consultative democracy is applied extensively as a mechanism at multiple levels. The consultative content and procedure are regulated, and the means, frequency and effect of consultation extended and increased. Extensive consultation is conducted on matters concerning overall economic and social development and related to the vital interests of the people. Since reform and opening up, the national committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has conducted over 2,000 investigations and consultations, received 135,111 proposals, recorded 124,868 of them, published and transmitted 11,688 samples of public opinion, and adopted and carried out most of the proposals. By September 2018, there had been 796,000 registered social organizations nationwide. They are active in urban and rural communities and help improve the level and ability of the public to express their demands, and to govern and serve themselves.
Multiple means to guarantee the right of expression. In 2017, a total of 36.8 billion copies of newspapers, 2.6 billion issues of periodicals, and 9 billion copies of books were published. By September 2018, the optical cable nationwide totaled 41.31 million kilometers; there were 110.65 million broadband users in rural areas and 1.29 billion mobile broadband users. Penetration of mobile phones was 111.3 per hundred persons. By June 2018, there were 802 million internet users across the nation, and 788 million of them accessed the internet through mobile phones. Internet usage was 57.7 percent across the country, and 36.5 percent in rural areas. Online platforms have been built to make expression convenient and efficient. Complaints reporting channels have been broadened through letters, visits, internet and telephone to multiply the means for the public to express their demands.
Continued efforts to improve the right of supervision. The National People's Congress revised the Budget Law in 2014, and released Decisions on Building a Mechanism of Soliciting Opinions of Deputies to People's Congresses and the Public Before Budget Review in 2017 to make budgets transparent and place them under democratic supervision. In 2015, the Legislation Law was amended, specifying that it is necessary to respond to the requirement for review and disclose information to increase the citizens' right to supervise.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress should exercise their supervisory duties over the Constitution and the law, and improve the filing and review system by setting up a national unified platform. The Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress received 4,778 normative documents for filing, reviewed 188 administrative regulations and judicial interpretations item by item, conducted special reviews of targeted local regulations, studied 1,527 review suggestions raised by the public and other organizations, and urged relevant departments to correct problems when they were found to be in conflict with current laws. From 2012 to 2016, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress carried out 20 examinations of law enforcement. Between 2016 and 2017, it inspected the enforcement of 12 laws concerning the immediate interests of the public such as Food Safety, Workplace Safety, Environmental Protection, and Road Traffic Safety.
The CPPCC has actively explored and improved the democratic supervision system and offered criticism and suggestions regarding problems arising in implementation. In 2017, the 12th CPPCC National Committee investigated and researched 20 supervisory issues, which accounted for 28 percent of its total investigations and researches. In 2015, the corresponding figures were 12 and 11 percent. The Plan for Deeper Reform of the People's Supervisor System has been implemented to extend the public's right of scrutiny.
Legal guarantee for freedom of religious belief. China follows policies on freedom of religious belief. Based on its national and religious conditions, China protects citizens' right to freedom of religious belief, builds active and healthy religious relationships, and maintains religious and social harmony. The Chinese government, in accordance with the Constitution and the law, supports all religions in upholding the principle of independence and self-management; religious groups, clerical personnel and believers manage their own religious affairs. The state manages religious affairs involving national and public interests, but does not interfere in the internal affairs of religions. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has comprehensively promoted the rule of law and included religious work in the national governance system to improve its law-based management. The state treats all religions fairly and equally, and does not exercise administrative power to encourage or ban any religion. No religion is given preferential treatment over other religions to enjoy special legal privileges. The major religions practiced in China are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Catholic and Protestant Christianity, involving a total of nearly 200 million believers and more than 380,000 clerical personnel. At present, there are about 144,000 places of worship registered for religious activities and 91 religious schools in China. Social security for religious clerical personnel has been enhanced. By the end of 2017, 96.5 percent of clerical personnel had been covered by medical insurance, and 89.6 percent by old-age insurance, and all eligible personnel had been covered by subsistence allowance welfare-almost all clerical personnel had been covered by the social security system in China.