The post of 30 April asked whether the National Human Rights Action Plan of China is rhetoric or reality. Below is a summary of the main reforms, bearing in mind that the document exceeds 21 000 words.
(1) Right to work
Efforts to be made to promote employment and re-employment, and guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of workers.
(2) Right to basic living conditions
The insurance systems covering basic old-age pension, basic medical care, unemployment, work-related injury and maternity, as well as the social-aid system, will be perfected so as to raise the level of social security.
(3) Social security
The aim is to raise the level of social security. By 2010, the population covered by the urban basic old-age pension insurance is expected to exceed 223 million; that covered by basic medical care insurance, 400 million; that by unemployment insurance, 120 million; that by work-related injury insurance, 140 million; and that by maternity insurance, over 100 million. The population covered by rural social old-age pension insurance and corporate annuity will expand year by year.
The system of “Five Guarantees” (food, clothing, housing, medical care, and burial (education – sic) expenses for elderly people, handicapped people and residents under the age of 16 living in the countryside who have lost the ability to work, have no sources of income and have no people to support them.) are to be improved.
The basic framework for a basic medical and health system covering the entire nation is to be established. The main goals expected to be reached in 2010 are average life expectancy, 73 years; infant mortality rate, below 14.9 per thousand; mortality rate of children under five, below 17.7 per thousand; mortality rate of pregnant and lying-in women, below 40 per 100,000; and the free national immunity vaccination programme for children, 95%in cities and 90% in the countryside.
The intention is to expedite the establishment of the basic medical care system. By 2010, the allowances to urban residents covered by medical insurance and rural residents covered by new rural cooperative medical services are to be raised to 120 yuan per person per annum. Within three years from 2009, efforts will be made to support the construction of 2 000 county-level hospitals, 3 700 community health service centres and 11 000 community health service stations in cities. The construction of 29 000 township hospitals are to be completed, as well as the renovation or expansion of 5 000 hospitals in key townships.
Beginning in 2009, a uniform health record for all residents are to be established throughout the country. Regular health checkups will be conducted for people over 65 years old, growth tests for infants under three, prenatal examinations and postnatal visits for pregnant women and women who have given birth, and prevention and counseling services for sufferers of high blood pressure, diabetes, mental illnesses, AIDS and tuberculosis. Infectious diseases are to be brought under control.
A Law on Food Safety will be enacted, and systems governing food and medicine production permits, compulsory testing, market access, recall, and import and export inspection and quarantine will be put in place, and examination and supervision will be strengthened.
Safe drinking water is to be supplied to another 60 million rural population in 2009. More community sports facilities will be built for both urban and rural residents
Priority is to be given to compulsory education and rural education. Vocational education will be developed, the quality of higher learning to be enhanced and after-school education to be promoted.
Effective measures are intended to be taken to promote cultural undertakings and guarantee the citizens’ basic cultural rights.
China is to take an active part in international cooperation in an effort to create an environment favourable for sustainable development and build a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society by the year 2010.
(8) Farmers’ rights and interests
China intends to make great efforts to break the dual structure of urban and rural systems, speed up the construction of a new countryside and safeguard farmers’ legitimate rights and interests.
(9) Guaranteeing human rights in the reconstruction after the devastating earthquake
The massive earthquake which struck Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, in May 2008 caused colossal life and property losses to the areas hit. The major reconstruction tasks to be finished, the basic living conditions of the victims and the economic development level of the quake-hit areas to be restored to or exceed the pre-quake levels in three years’ time, the goal to be attained that every family has a house to live in as well as an income from employment, with social security.
II. Guarantee of Civil and Political Rights
China states its intention to continue to improve democracy and the rule of law, strengthen the protection of civil rights in the execution of administrative laws and in judicial practices, and raise the level of ensuring people’s civil and political rights.
(1) Rights of the person
Measures to be taken to protect citizens’ personal rights in every process of law enforcement and judicial work. The extortion of confessions by torture and illegal detention by law enforcement personnel are prohibited.
The death penalty to be strictly controlled and prudently applied.
(2) Rights of detainees
Legislation concerning prison management to be improved and effective measures taken to ensure detainees’ rights and humanitarian treatment.
Efforts to be made to improve the laws, regulations, policies and measures related to the protection of detainees’ rights and humanitarian treatment.
(3) Right to a fair trial
The rights of litigants to an impartial trial is guaranteed
(4) Freedom of religious belief
China fully implements the policy of freedom of religious belief, manages religious affairs and protects citizens’ freedom of religious belief.
(5) Right to be informed
More efforts to be made to keep the public informed of government affairs, and improve relevant laws and regulations, so as to guarantee citizens’ right of information.
(6) Right to participate
Citizens’ participation in political affairs to be expanded in an orderly way at all levels and in all sectors.
The people’s congress system to be improved. The election system to be improved.
Political consultation to be incorporated further in the decision-making procedures the effective participation by personages from non-Communist parties and people with no political affiliation to be enhanced.
The system of people’s self-governance at the grassroots level to be improved.
Democratic and scientific decision-making to be promoted to expand public participation in the decision-making process.
Guarantee will be extended to trade unions, women’s federations, youth federations and other mass organizations.
The construction and management of social organizations to be strengthened to enhance their functions in serving society
(8) Right to oversee
The laws and regulations governing the mechanism of restraint and supervision and guaranteeing the people’s right of democratic supervision, to be improved.
The democratic supervision mechanism of the CPPCC to be improved.
The people’s supervision over administrative, trial and procuratorial organs to be strengthened.
Citizens’ rights to criticize, give advice to, complain of, and accuse state organs and civil servants to be improved, giving full play to the role of mass organizations, social organizations and the news media in supervising state organs and civil servants.
Laws and regulations on the prevention and punishment of corruption to be strictly implemented.
III. Guarantee of the Rights and Interests of Ethnic Minorities, Women, Children, Elderly People and the Disabled
Further measures to be taken to protect the rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, elderly people and the disabled.
(1) The rights of ethnic minorities
The 55 minority ethnic groups – Han Chinese not included – have a total population of 106.43 million, accounting for 8.41 percent of the total population of China.
All ethnic groups are equal and the state protects the lawful rights and interests of ethnic minorities.
The formulation of ancillary regulations that promote the implementation of the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy to be xpedited. The Regulations on Ethnic Minority Work in Cities and Regulations on Administrative Work in Ethnic Townships to be revised.
The right of ethnic minorities to manage the affairs of ethnic autonomous areas and participate in managing state affairs are guaranteed.
All 55 minority ethnic groups to have their representatives in the National People’s Congress.
(2) Women’s rights
Efforts to be continued to realize the goals stated in the Programme for the Development of Chinese Women (2001-2010), promoting gender equality as well as guaranteeing women’s legitimate rights and interests.
Women’s participation in the management of state and social affairs to be increasied. People’s congresses, political consultative conferences and local governments at all levels should have at least one female member in their leadership. Women should be present in at least 50%of the government leadership of central government ministries, provincial and city governments.
(3) Children’s rights
The government to endeavour to realize the goals set in the Programme for the Development of Children of China (2001-2010), making every effort to guarantee children’s rights to life, development and participation in various affairs.
Law and policy making for the juvenile population to be improved.
The children’s right to health to be guaranteed.
(4) Senior citizens’ rights
The social security system for the aged to be improved.
The Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, and reinforcing legal protection of senior citizens’ rights to housing, property, marriage, medical care, old-age support and other areas, to be revised.
An integrated service system for the elderly, with home-based care as the basis, community care as support, and nursing homes as supplement, to be established.
(5) Rights of the disabled
There are over 83 million disabled people with various kinds of disabilities in China, accounting for 6.34% of the total population. The state has made great efforts to develop undertakings relating to the disabled and to beef up the building of the social security and service systems for them, providing guarantees for the legitimate rights and interests of the disabled.
The legal system to promote the development of undertakings for the disabled and to guarantee their legal rights to be improved.
IV. Education in Human Rights
The state to actively rely on the present systems of compulsory education, secondary education, higher education and vocational education, training organizations in state agencies, as well as the media, including radio, television, news-papers, magazines and the Internet, to carry out education in human rights in various forms in a planned way, popularizing and spreading knowledge of the law and human rights.
The content of the law and human rights in courses of secondary and elementary schools gradually to be increased.
In senior high schools, besides human rights education of a general nature, education in the “basic rights and obligations of citizens” stipulated in the Constitution and knowledge of international human rights to be carried out.
The state continues to encourage institutions of higher learning to conduct research and education in human rights theory.
Human rights education and training to be carried out especially among government employees.
Activities of human rights education among the general public to disseminate the knowledge of human rights and enhance the public’s awareness of human rights, to be carried out.
Good use to be made of the media to disseminate the knowledge of human rights among the general public.
International exchanges and cooperation in human rights education to be carried out.
V. Performing International Human Rights Duties, and Conducting Exchanges and Cooperation in the Field of International Human Rights
China will continue to fulfill its obligations to the international human rights conventions to which it has acceded, and initiate and actively participate in exchanges and cooperation in the field of international human rights.
(1) Fulfillment of international human rights obligations
So far, China has acceded to 25 international conventions on human rights. China will earnestly fulfill its obligations to those conventions.
China has signed the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” and will continue legislative, judicial and administrative reforms to make domestic laws better linked with this Covenant, and prepare the ground for approval of the ICCPR.
The “United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention,” is being earnestly executed.
(2) Exchanges and cooperation in the field of international human rights
China is committed to hold exchanges and cooperation in the field of international human rights and promoting the healthy development of international human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
China continues to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and other relevant international organizations.
Author : Stanley Crossick