China and the U.S. will hold the 15th human rights dialogue May 13-14 in Washington, the first such conference since Obama came into power.
The first 14 rounds of the dialogue have shown that the divergence on human rights between China and the U.S. has not been resolved through the talks. The main obstacle is that the U.S. always deems itself as the role model and instructor in safeguarding human rights, whereas China is seen as a country whose practice in human rights needs to be corrected. Therefore, the U.S. always comes to the human rights dialogue with an opinionated superiority and the talks are not conducted on an equal basis.
China and the U.S. have different understandings of what the phrase "human rights" means, due to their different political systems and cultural values. Both countries agree to respect universal human rights. All kinds of human rights are interdependent and inseparable. However, China's respect for human rights focuses on guaranteeing people's rights for life and development. The U.S. emphasizes an individual's political rights, including freedom of speech, access to information, freedom of association, political participation and freedom of religion.
Due to these differing opinions and the existing US prejudice against China, China cannot govern without US interference. Whenever China takes legal actions regarding religious problems, Internet management, activities violating Chinese laws, or riots in minority areas, the US government and media automatically categorize those acts as human rights violations. China has actually made great progress in protecting human rights. When evaluating a country's human rights conditions, one should adopt a comprehensive and development attitude.
The so-called human rights problems that the U.S. urges China to solve usually involve China's sovereignty, political system, political and social stability, or the unification of the Chinese nation. It is impossible for China to make changes in these fields to meet the requirements of the U.S.
China also believes that the U.S. adopts a double standard on human rights issues in other countries and turns a blind eye on its own problems. These problems include racial discrimination, abuse of power by its police force, immigrant rights, inequality of political participation and prisoner abuse. The U.S. has not participated in a number of important international conventions on human rights.
Dialogue helps to reduce conflicts between two countries. If there were no such talks, the U.S. and other Western countries would condemn China in order to satisfy their domestic political needs. This would no doubt affect China's image, and in return China would work with other developing countries to vote against Western countries. Confrontation is not good for either side. Talks help to enhance mutual understanding, serving as an opportunity for both sides to learn why the other side is adopting certain policies.
China has never shunned its problems related to the judicial system, legal environment and human rights. Constructive criticism and suggestions from abroad will help China to do better in these fields.