|The Chinese government on Thursday published its third national action plan on human rights protection, addressing challenges and promising to improve people’s standard of living and quality of life.
The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2016-2020), released by the State Council Information Office (SCIO), follows the previous two which covered 2009-2010 and 2012-2015 periods.
According to the new action plan, the period from 2016 to 2020 is a decisive stage for China to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way.
Although China’s human rights protection has moved up to a new level, problems remain, including those closely related to the people’s vital interests, the plan said.
The rule of law in safeguarding human rights needs to be further promoted and more efforts are required to realize higher levels of human rights protection, it said.
In an interview with Xinhua, an official of the SCIO said the action plan synchronizes with the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), with the protection of human rights running in parallel with economic and social development over the next five years.
The action plan vows more resources and policy support for rural, remote and under-developed areas and aims to ensure equal access to public services, said the official.
In the coming five years, the Chinese government will combine human rights with economic, political, cultural and social progress, ecological protection and Party building and adhere to the people-centered development approach, according to the action plan.
China will put the protection of people’s rights to subsistence and development in the first place and take people’s well-being and all-round development as both the starting point and ultimate goal of China’s human rights work, it said.
The joint meeting mechanism as well as supervision and assessment will be improved to ensure the implementation of the action plan, it said.
Guaranteeing civil and political rights
“Law-based governance shall be advanced, judicial protection of human rights strengthened and orderly civil participation in political affairs expanded to effectively protect the people’s civil and political rights,” the action plan said.
In the plan, China promises to expand citizens’ rights to know through various channels, and increase means of their participation in social governance.
China will give more space to public opinion, increase ways of expression, improve supervision system for the operation of power, and protect citizens’ rights of free expression in accordance with the law, the action plan said.
Protecting rights for specific groups
The action plan highlighted measures to protect the lawful rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, elderly people and the disabled.
The state will prioritize the development of ethnic minorities, and respect and protect their rights.
Objectives set in the National Program for Women’s Development (2011-2020) is expected to be realized to eliminate gender discrimination, improve the environment for women’s development and protect the legitimate rights and interests of women.
The level of social security and basic public services for the disabled will be raised, and efforts will be made to bring them more opportunities to participate in social life on an equal footing, the action plan said.
Stressing environmental rights
The action plan stressed to implement the strictest possible system of environmental protection, addressing environmental problems including air, water and soil pollution.
By 2020, the ratio of days with good air quality in cities above the prefecture level shall exceed 80 percent and the total emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxides drop by 15 percent.
In a move to curb water pollution, by 2020, the chemical oxygen demand amount and total emission of ammonia nitrogen shall drop by 10 percent, and excessive exploitation of groundwater shall be brought under strict control.
The action plan also urged to protect marine resources and environment, and upgrade the energy structure, it said.
Boosting international exchanges
China will continue to fulfill its obligations to the international human rights conventions, and actively conduct international exchanges and cooperation in the field of human rights, said the action plan.
“China shall fully participate in the work of the UN’s human rights mechanisms, and promote the United Nations Human Rights Council and other mechanisms to attach equal importance to economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, and function in a fair, objective and non-selective manner,” it read.
In the plan, China will increase consultation and cooperation on human rights with the other four BRICS members (Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa), developing countries and the G77 (group of developing nations).
China will also participate in regional and sub-regional activities on human rights, such as the Informal Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Seminar on Human Rights, the action plan added.