Special Report: 30 Years of Reform & Opening Up
GENEVA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- China has made substantial
achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights, particularly since
the start of its reform and opening up in 1978, a senior Chinese diplomat said
The Chinese people won national independence in 1949,
and since then "a fundamental social and political system for the promotion and
protection of human rights has been established," said Li Baodong, Chinese
ambassador to the U.N. Office in Geneva.
"With its launch of reform and opening up and its
historic modernization drive in 1978, China has begun a new chapter in the
promotion and protection of human rights," Li told a session of the 47-state
U.N. Human Rights Council.
The Council was examining China's human rights record
according to a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) system, which was initiated last
year to review records of all U.N. member states so as to help improve human
rights conditions worldwide.
Li told the Council that China has made great
achievements in poverty reduction, as a result, the country had become the first
in the world to meet the poverty reduction target set in the U.N. Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs).
The average life expectancy of Chinese citizens has
risen to 73years, seven years higher than the world average, and the maternal
mortality rate has dropped to 36.6 per 100,000, 60 percent lower than the figure
in 1978 when the reform was first initiated, he added.
China has also made great progress in education. By
the end of 2000, the entire country has realized universal nine-year compulsory
China has met ahead of schedule the targets of
"universal primary education" and "eliminating gender disparity in primary and
secondary education" set in the MDGs, Li said.
China has also worked consistently to improve its
legal system. Since 1978, the National People's Congress (NPC) and its Standing
Committee have enacted nearly 250 laws relating to the protection of human
The notion of the rule of law and the notion that the
State respects and safeguards human rights were codified in the Chinese
Constitution in 1999 and 2004 respectively.
Besides, China has endeavored to promote democracy,
enhance democratic institutions, improve the system of people's congresses, and
reinforce political consultations among the political parties.
China also seeks to guarantee judicial independence
and impartial administration of justice through continued reform and improvement
of its judicial system.
The country has continued its efforts to promote
law-based governance and to increase government transparency.
China also encourages non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) to fully play their role in promoting and protecting human rights.
There are now 400,000 registered NGOs in China, which
are active in such fields as poverty alleviation, health care, education,
environmental protection, and the safeguarding of citizens' rights.
China pursues a policy of ethnic equality and
regional ethnic autonomy. Ethnic minorities in China benefit from special
preferential policies in political, economic, cultural and educational spheres.
The Chinese government encourages dual- and
multi-language teaching in schools of ethnic minorities, and has helped 13
ethnic minorities to create or develop their own written languages, Li said.
Besides, huge investment has been made to protect the
religions, cultural identities and other heritages of ethnic minorities, he
China has also taken an active part in international
human rights exchanges and cooperation, he noted.
China is now party to 25 international human rights
instruments, and has conducted human rights dialog with nearly 20 countries, he
Despite its huge achievements in the promotion of
human rights, China is fully aware of its difficulties and challenges in this
field, Li noted.
He cited such challenges as the need to create 24
million jobs each year, the existence of a vast number of poverty-stricken and
low-income people, imbalances in development between urban and rural areas and
among regions, and the lack of necessary medical and health-care services and a
well-established social security system.
To overcome these difficulties and challenges, the
Chinese government is conscientiously implementing the Scientific Outlook on
Development in an effort to build a harmonious society characterized by
democracy, the rule of law, equity and justice, Li said.
The Chinese government will continue to give top
priority to people's livelihood, human values, people's rights and interests,
and social equity and freedoms, he said.