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Protecting and Promoting Human Rights Through Development

By Qiu Ping Source: Updated: 2023-07-04

In an address at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi Jinping pointed out that we need to "safeguard and improve people's livelihoods and protect and promote human rights through development, and make sure that development is for the people and by the people, and that its fruits are shared among the people. We should continue our work so that the people will have a greater sense of gain, fulfillment, and security, and achieve well-rounded development." By drawing an organic link between the ideas of "people," "development," and "human rights," this statement contains the same profound theoretical, historic, and practical logic that has underpinned the unceasing development of human rights in China.

The rights to subsistence and development are primary basic human rights. Marxism emphasizes the importance of material production in guaranteeing subsistence and development, holding that it must always remain a top priority because people cannot survive without proper material support. Subsistence, therefore, is the basis for all human rights, while development is the prerequisite for subsistence. The rights to subsistence and development are thus the rights intended to guarantee basic survival and life itself.

The ultimate human right is the right to lead a happy life. The right to a happy life, predicated on guaranteeing the rights to subsistence and development, represents a reinforcement of these two rights and a more holistic conception of human rights. The right to a happy life includes both material and intellectual aspects. It incorporates rights to subsistence and development along with economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights to form an all-embracing whole.

Human rights should be promoted in coordination to achieve comprehensive progress. Based on ensuring stronger protection for people's rights to subsistence and development and on continuous improvements in living standards, we must strive to coordinate the advancement of human rights in all realms to create more suitable conditions for promoting people's well-rounded development and demonstrate the strengths of the socialist system.

Human rights should promote the full development of personal freedom. Marx's major proposition that the future would bring "a society in which the full and free development of every individual forms the ruling principle" envisions an ideal type of society. By achieving a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China has laid a sound foundation for every individual to enjoy full and free development. Our efforts to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful will further create favorable conditions for realizing this goal.

It has been proven in practice that the approach of protecting and promoting human rights through development and strengthening human rights protection during the development process to achieve higher-standard, more substantive, and more comprehensive human rights protection is a highly effective tool for promoting human rights in China and represents a significant contribution by China to the global cause of human rights.