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新华网 2021-06-25 10:01


II. The Principle of Respecting and Protecting Human Rights Embedded in Governance

1. In the Constitution as a Guiding Principle

As the fundamental law of a country, the Constitution is a written guarantee of the rights of citizens. Under the leadership of the CPC, China has established a Chinese socialist legal system with the Constitution at the core, thus laying a solid legal foundation for ensuring human rights.

In September 1954, the First Session of the First National People's Congress (NPC) adopted the Constitution of the PRC, which declared that all power in the country belongs to the people. It provided a wide range of rights and freedom that citizens enjoy in political, economic, social, cultural, personal and other respects. In December 1982, the Fifth Session of the Fifth NPC adopted the current Constitution of the PRC, in which "The Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens" was moved forward and made second only to Chapter I, "General Principles". This adjustment highlighted the importance of citizens’ rights. Meanwhile, this Constitution also expanded the range of rights under protection. Later, the NPC adopted five amendments to the Constitution in 1988, 1993, 1999, 2004 and 2018, to better protect human rights. These involved the basic economic system, distribution system, protection of citizens' private property, and the social security system.

The amendment adopted at the Second Session of the 10th NPC, held in March 2004, added the line "The state respects and safeguards human rights" into the Constitution. Since then, respecting and protecting human rights has been a basic principle of the system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics and a binding rule of conduct and a legal obligation of all state organs, armed forces, political parties, social organizations, enterprises and public institutions. No laws, regulations, rules and normative documents can be in conflict with the principle, and accountability must be enforced on all acts that violate it.

The CPC leads the people in fully and strictly enforcing the Constitution and takes the lead in fulfilling the constitutional responsibility of respecting and protecting human rights. This has been achieved through improving laws, regulations and institutional systems and developing various undertakings of the state. China has established mechanisms best suited to its political systems and national conditions for enforcing the Constitution and the oversight thereof. It has set up the NPC Constitution and Law Committee to carry out constitutional review, so as to better uphold the authority of the Constitution and ensure that the provisions of the Constitution are observed.


2. In State Governance as a Philosophy

Serving the people wholeheartedly is the fundamental purpose of the CPC. The Party adheres to a people-centered philosophy of development, exercises power for the people, and ensures that development is for the people and by the people and that its benefits are shared by the people. It embodies the principle of respecting and protecting human rights in its governance and self-improvement.

At the 15th CPC National Congress held in 1997, the report to the congress included for the first time the following expression: "ensuring that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedom endowed by law, and respecting and guaranteeing human rights". The 16th CPC National Congress held in 2002 reiterated that "human rights are respected and guaranteed", and included the following words in the goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects: “The political, economic and cultural rights and interests of the people will be respected and guaranteed in real earnest” and “promoting the all-round development of people”. The report to the 17th CPC National Congress held in 2007 read that “We must respect and guarantee human rights, and ensure the equal right to participation and development for all members of society in accordance with the law”, and “It [the CPC] respects and safeguards human rights" was formally added into the CPC Constitution.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress held in 2012, to further reform on all fronts and accelerate the modernization of China’s governance system and capacity, the CPC has attached greater importance to improving the systems and mechanisms for respecting and protecting human rights. At the 18th CPC National Congress, the principle that “human rights should be fully respected and protected” was included in the report to the congress and listed as one of the key strategic goals of building a moderately prosperous society and furthering reform and opening up in an all- round way. In 2014, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee adopted the Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Advancing the Rule of Law. The resolution emphasized the need to “provide stronger judicial protection of human rights” and to “strengthen awareness throughout the whole of society about the need to respect and safeguard human rights”. It stipulated ways to ensure that citizens’ rights are protected by the law: enhancing judicial protection of human rights and legislation in key areas, protecting citizens’ rights in accordance with the law, establishing a legal system featuring equal rights, equal opportunities and fair rules for all, ensuring the inviolability of citizens’ rights including personal rights, property rights and basic political rights, and making sure that citizens enjoy rights in economic, cultural, social and all other respects. The Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2015 made it clear that “human rights should be fully protected” is a major goal of promoting the rule of law during the entire 13th Five-year Plan period.

In 2017, the report to the 19th CPC National Congress stated: “the principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era is that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. We must therefore continue commitment to our people-centered philosophy of development, and work to promote well-rounded human development and common prosperity for everyone.”

The report drew a blueprint for future progress in China’s human rights: From 2020 to 2035, on the basis of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the rights of the people to participate and to develop as equals will be adequately protected; from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, building on having achieved basic modernization, we will develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful; common prosperity for everyone will be largely achieved; the Chinese people will enjoy happier, safer, and healthier lives; we will strengthen legal protection for human rights to ensure that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedoms as prescribed by law.

In 2019, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee pointed out that improving the wellbeing of the people and promoting well-rounded human development are essential to the Party's commitment to serving the public good and exercising power in the interests of the people. In 2020, the proposal of the CPC Central Committee on formulating the 14th Five-year Plan for economic and social development and the long-range objectives through the year 2035 was adopted at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. The proposal set higher goals for China’s development, which include promoting well-rounded human development and all-round social advancement and promoting comprehensive progress in human rights.


3. In National Development Plans for Its Realization

From 1953 to 2021, China has formulated 14 plans for national economic and social development, providing for the country’s development in economic, social, cultural, environmental and other respects.

In accordance with the proposal adopted at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, the Fourth Session of the 13th NPC held in March 2021 deliberated and adopted the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 of the PRC. The outline set forth specific objectives, tasks, policies and measures for China’s development in economic, political, cultural, social, ecological and other fields in the next five years and 15 years. In the outline, it was emphasized that we must pursue people-centered development, adopt a new vision for development, and ensure the principal status of the people; we must move steadily toward common prosperity, safeguard the fundamental interests of the people, and unleash their enthusiasm, initiative and creativity; we must promote social equity and justice, improve the wellbeing of the people, and realize the people’s aspiration for a better life. This approach to development embodies the principle of respecting and protecting human rights.

Protecting people's economic, social and cultural rights, especially their rights to employment, basic living, social security, health, education, culture, environment, property and other services, is essential to the rights of all to life and development. The state makes constant progress in protecting citizens' basic rights by formulating outlines and plans for the development of various undertakings. In the past 10 years alone, the Chinese government formulated dozens of policy documents concerning people’s rights to subsistence and development in many fields. These include the Outline of Development-Driven Poverty Alleviation in Rural Areas (2011-2020), the Outline of Healthy China 2030, the Outline of National Medium- and Long-Term Program for Education Reform and Development (2010-2020), the Outline of the Development of Human Resources and Social Security Undertakings During the 13th Five-Year Plan Period, the Outline of China’s Environmental Protection, the Program for Developing Ethnic Minority Areas and Ethnic Groups with Small Populations During the 13th Five-Year Plan Period, the Program for the Development of Women in China (2011-2020), the Program for the Development of Children in China (2011-2020), the Plan for the Development of China’s Old-Age Programs and Elderly-Care System, the Outline for the Development of People with Disabilities During the 13th Five-Year Plan Period, and the Rural Revitalization Strategic Plan (2018-2022). China also worked out a series of institutions and measures to protect citizens’ civil and political rights, particularly citizens’ personal rights, their rights to fair trial, freedom of religion, the rights to be informed, to be engaged and to be heard, and the right to oversee.

China actively responds to the initiatives of the international community. Since 2009, it has worked out three national human rights action plans, which is quite unusual among countries of the world. Currently, the work has begun to produce the fourth – the National Human Rights Action Plan (2021-2025). China has integrated its national human rights action plans with its national development plans.


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