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China places people at the forefront in pursuit of economic development

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2022-07-12

BEIJING -- Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese economy has experienced extraordinary growth over the past decades, transforming a backward agrarian economy into the largest growth engine of today's world economy.

The country's route to economic prosperity also embodies its progress in human rights, as the decades of economic development have centered on one original aspiration: seeking happiness for the Chinese people, a primary goal and a consistent policy priority for Chinese policymakers.

In pursuit of this goal, the living standards of the Chinese people have improved significantly along with the country achieving rapid economic growth. In 2021, China's per capita GDP reached 12,500 U.S. dollars, up from less than 30 dollars more than 70 years ago.

China announced the eradication of absolute poverty last year after lifting nearly 100 million rural poor out of poverty and the realization of all-round moderate prosperity in the country with a population of about one-fifth of the world's total -- significant milestones in the cause of human rights.

The country has established the world's largest education, social security, and medical and health care systems, with the average life expectancy of Chinese people increasing to 77.9 in 2021 from 35 in 1949.

China's Gini coefficient, an index reflecting inequality where zero equals perfect equality, declined to 0.466 in 2021 from 0.474 in 2012.

The CPC "regards the rights to subsistence and development as the primary and basic human rights, and believes that living a life of contentment is the ultimate human right," according to a white paper on the Party's practice in respecting and protecting human rights released last year.

It stated that the Party "promotes the well-rounded development of the individual, and strives to give every person a stronger sense of gain, happiness and security."

This notion echoes the articulation in the United Nation's Declaration on the Right to Development, a key document on human rights, that "the right to development is an inalienable human right" by virtue and everyone is entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s human development index (HDI), from 1990 to 2019, China's score increased from 0.499 to 0.761.

"It is the only country to have moved from the low human development category to the high human development category since UNDP first began analyzing global HDI trends in 1990," the UNDP said in a special report in 2019.

Even in the face of uncertainties and challenges posed by the recent sporadic resurgences of COVID-19, China has taken resolute steps to strike a balance between COVID-19 response and economic and social development.

While protecting people's lives and health to the greatest extent, the country has rolled out a slew of measures to stabilize growth and safeguard development security, helping address people's difficulties and reduce the impact on the economy and people's work and life.

To ensure people's well-being, for instance, China has kept overall consumer prices stable amid COVID-19, whereas some countries have seen inflation surge to new highs in decades. In June, China's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose mildly by 2.5 percent year on year.

Going forward, China has also set out new development goals and put common prosperity in a more prominent position, aiming at affluence shared by everyone, both in material and cultural terms.

In its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, China has reiterated its commitment to a people-centered approach for the years to come.

"We must ensure the principal position of the people, and work towards common prosperity. We must insist that our development is for the people and depends on the people and that its fruits are shared by the people," stated the development plan.

He Zhipeng, dean of the School of Law at Jilin University, believes that the human rights cause under the leadership of the CPC has been a gradual exploration process.

Achieving all-round moderate prosperity is only "a comma" in China's human rights cause, He said, expressing hopes for further and better progress in the near future. 

The views don't necessarily reflect those of Qiushi Journal.