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China will stick to its own path of human rights development

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The State Council Information Office published a detailed assessment report on the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) last week, which said all measures stipulated in the Action Plan had been put into practice with all the goals achieved and tasks fulfilled in due time.

The comprehensive implementation of the Action Plan was a milestone in the development of human rights in China. However, some people in the West again chose to ignore the facts and figures listed in the assessment report and criticized China's human rights, subsequently making their motives dubious in nature.

Criticism is vain if not based on facts. The progress in China's human rights, as shown in the assessment report, will not be changed by unfounded remarks.

China has taken a path of human rights development in line with its national conditions, and it will stick to that path in the future.

All people of all countries should enjoy freedom and equality. This is the universal pursuit and common ideal of mankind. But restrained by economic development level, cultural traditions and social systems, people have different interpretations and demands with regard to human rights, and their human rights problems that require prompt solutions also vary.

In 2009 and 2010, China faced the most difficult economic situation since it entered the new century, as an unprecedented global financial crisis posed a severe threat to people's lives and human rights.

The Chinese government took prompt measures with an investment of over 4 trillion yuan (618.6 billion U.S. dollars) and took the lead in realizing the overall economic recovery and improving people's lives amid the crisis.

Meanwhile, severe earthquakes hit southwestern Sichuan's Wenchuan and northwestern Qinghai's Yushu in 2008 and 2010, respectively, leaving tens of thousands of people dead. A landslide hit northwestern Gansu's Zhouqu on August 7, 2010, with about 1,500 dead and 264 missing.

Facing these severe natural disasters, the government persisted in "putting the safety of people's lives on top of its work agenda," and promptly organized disaster relief and rescue work," said the assessment report.

Yet some people and organizations in the West turned a blind eye to all these efforts and rebuked China's human rights development by labelling "benchmarks" in the Action Plan as ambiguous and saying the Action Plan "overlooks the 'human' in 'human rights'."

The criticism is purely unfounded, and here are some examples.

-- In order to protect the right to work, the Action Plan set the goal that in 2009 and 2010 an additional 18 million urban workers would be employed and 18 million rural laborers would move to cities or towns and find jobs there.

Then, the assessment report said an additional 22.7 million urban workers were employed and 19.39 million rural laborers moved to cities or towns and found jobs there in the two-year period.

-- The Action Plan said China would improve its preventative and relief measures to protect citizens' personal rights in every process of law enforcement and judicial work. "The state prohibits the extortion of confessions by torture."

The assessment report then said "China's judicial organs have issued guidance documents regarding the criminal evidence system to protect the rights of the person in accordance with the law."

The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued the regulations on some issues concerning the exclusion of illegal evidence in criminal cases in June 2010, which stated that confessions and witness testimony obtained by illegal means, such as torture, should not be taken as evidence to support a verdict, according to the assessment report.

-- The Action Plan pledged to improve the people's congress system and revise the Election Law to improve the election system, while the assessment report said: "Citizens'right to participate has been effectively guaranteed."

In March 2010, the National People's Congress adopted the decision to revise the Election Law to stipulate that deputies to the people's congresses would be elected in the same proportion to the populations of urban and rural areas, the assessment report said.

Over the past 30-plus years of reform and opening, China has pioneered a path best suited to its national conditions in human rights development, which features "people first," stability as a precondition, reform as the motive force, development as the key, the rule of law as the guarantee, and comprehensive and coordinated development in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

So long as China continues along this path, its human rights cause is sure to see new progress as the modernization drive continues. The country will not deviate from the path simply because of unfounded accusations.

The path is decided by China's national conditions and is also the wish of the international community. During its first review of China's human rights record in 2009, the UN Human Rights Council acknowledged the country's efforts on human rights protection to the disappointment of some Western countries and several NGOs who were prepared to rebuke China during the period.

The 47-member council acknowledged China's efforts on human rights protection in the review report, and recommended China share with the international community, in particular developing countries, its experience in promoting the right development and poverty reduction.

Just as observers have said, it has become a routine job for some people to criticize China on human rights despite its achievements. This may be due to political reasons rather than because of actual issues with China's human rights.

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