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Follow the Chinese Path of Comprehensive Progress in Human Rights

Source: Xi Jinping: The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-07-28

Follow the Chinese Path of Comprehensive Progress in Human Rights*

February 25, 2022

Throughout its century-old history, the CPC has led the people in a tireless effort to realize, respect, protect and develop human rights. At a time when China has embarked on a new journey towards socialist modernization in all respects, as described in the Second Centenary Goal to be realized in 2049, we must fully appreciate the importance and urgency of promoting human rights, attach greater importance to respecting and protecting human rights, and adhere to the Chinese path in this cause to deliver better results.

Respecting and protecting human rights is an ongoing quest of China’s Communists. Since its founding in 1921, the CPC has always committed itself to national salvation, democracy, and human rights in China. In successive periods of history, from the New Democratic Revolution, through socialist revolution and construction, to reform and opening up and socialist modernization, the CPC has never deviated from its original aspiration and founding mission – to seek happiness for the Chinese people and to revitalize the Chinese nation. The Party has led the people to resounding victories in revolution, construction and reform. Today, the people of China have become the masters of our own country, our society and our future. Our rights to subsistence and development and other basic rights are well protected and keep progressing.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Party has prioritized human rights as an important aspect of national governance and achieved historic progress.

We have realized the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and, for the first time, eliminated extreme poverty, laying a more solid material foundation for advancing human rights in our country.

To ensure that our people enjoy fuller and more extensive democratic rights, we have put in place whole-process people’s democracy and legal protection for human rights, and defended social fairness and justice.

We have promoted fuller and higher-quality employment, established the world’s largest education, social security and healthcare systems, and remarkably improved the living environment of our people.

Under the principle that nothing is more precious than people’s lives, we have effectively responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and protected lives and health to the largest extent.

We have fully implemented the Party’s policies on ethnic affairs and religion, maintaining that all ethnic groups are equal, respecting all religious beliefs, and protecting the lawful rights and interests of all ethnic groups.

We have continued reform of the judicial system, launched the Peaceful China Initiative, strengthened the rule of law, carried out education and rectification campaigns among judicial, prosecuting and public security agencies in a bid to improve their conduct, and taken resolute action against criminal gangs and organized crime, and illegal and criminal activities, to ensure lasting social stability and protect lives and property.

China is the only major country that has formulated and implemented four successive national human rights action plans. We have taken an active part in global governance on human rights, and contributed Chinese solutions to worldwide progress in human rights.

In promoting human rights in China, we have integrated the Marxist outlook with China’s actual conditions and traditional culture, reviewed the successful experience of our Party in respecting and protecting human rights, and learned from the outstanding achievements of other civilizations. This has enabled us to chart a course of human rights protection that follows the tide of the times and suits China’s realities. In this process, we have adopted the following six principles:

First, uphold the leadership of the CPC. It is the CPC and the socialist system that have defined the socialist nature of human rights in China and ensured the status of the people as masters of the country. On this basis we are able to ensure that all our people enjoy human rights equally, promote comprehensive progress in all categories of human rights, and realize, protect and develop the fundamental interests of the greatest possible number of the people.

Second, respect and ensure the principal status of the people. “For the people” is the distinguishing feature of the Chinese path of human rights protection. We safeguard the people’s democratic rights, stimulate their enthusiasm, initiative and creativity, and enable them to become the dominant participants in, contributors to, and beneficiaries of our progress in human rights. We have made concrete efforts to promote the well-rounded development of the individual and to achieve substantial progress in common prosperity.

Third, proceed from China’s realities. We have applied the principle of universality of human rights in the context of our national conditions, propelled progress in accordance with the people’s demands, and ensured that they enjoy full, extensive, genuine, concrete and effective human rights in accordance with the law.

Fourth, focus on basic human rights, primarily the rights to subsistence and development. Subsistence is the foundation of all human rights. Living a life of contentment is the ultimate human right. We have implemented the new development philosophy in full, to the letter and in all fields. We have adopted the vision of people-centered development, upholding the principle that development is for the people and by the people, and the people share the benefits. We have stepped up efforts to achieve higher-quality development that is more efficient, equitable, sustainable and secure. During the process, we have striven to give the people a greater and more sustainable sense of gain, fulfillment and security.

Fifth, protect human rights in accordance with the law. Under the principle that everyone is equal before the law, we have strengthened human rights protection throughout the process of legislation, judicature, enforcement and observance of the law. We have accelerated improvement of the legal system featuring equal rights, equal opportunities, and fair rules for all. We have protected the citizens’ personal rights, property rights, and right to dignity, their basic political rights to engage in democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight, and their economic, cultural, social and environmental rights. We have made consistent efforts to strengthen legal protection for human rights.

Sixth, take an active part in global governance on human rights. We have championed the common values of humanity, practiced multilateralism in the real sense, participated in reforming and developing the global governance system on issues including human rights, and contributed to building a global community of shared future.

The above six principles, drawn from our practical experience, are the defining features of China’s human rights protection. We must do a better job in implementing these principles in the future.

We will promote comprehensive progress in human rights, follow the Chinese path in advancing this cause, respond to the people’s expectation for a better, higher-quality life, and meet their growing demand for rights in all respects. We will ensure coordinated development of the economy, democracy, the rule of law, ethics, culture, fairness, justice, social governance, and environmental protection. We will ensure all-round improvements in employment, income distribution, education, social security, health care, housing, old-age care and childcare. We will strengthen human rights protection in the process of advancing material, political, cultural, ethical, social and eco-environmental progress.

We will strengthen legal protection for human rights and further the reform of related legal institutions. We will provide legal guarantees that cover the whole process, every link and every dimension of human rights protection, including legislation, judicature, enforcement and observance of the law, so that the people can see that justice is served in every law, every law enforcement action, and every judicial case. We will systematically address legal issues of major concern to the public, handle their appeals equitably in accordance with the law, and eliminate acts of judicial injustice that fail the people and damage their interests. We will, in strict accordance with the law and Party discipline, investigate and punish any act infringing upon the legitimate rights of the people, and any act against public interests, and hold the perpetrators accountable.

We will promote our understanding of human rights, carry out an extensive educational campaign among the people to raise their awareness, and create a healthy atmosphere of respecting and protecting human rights. We will disseminate information on human rights, particularly among young people, and incorporate both the Marxist perspective and the Chinese outlook on human rights into the national education system. We will strengthen training in human rights for public servants, particularly those at the grassroots. We will leverage the strengths of people’s organizations in protecting the rights and interests of specific groups such as women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities. We will extract original ideas from our experience in advancing human rights, and develop systems of academic research, disciplines and discourse. We will establish and improve think tanks and research centers on human rights protection, and train human rights professionals who are proficient in theory, strong in academic research, familiar with international rules, and skilled in international communication.

We will contribute to global governance on human rights, advocating the common values of humanity, and embracing the principles of equality, mutual trust, inclusiveness, mutual learning, win-win cooperation, and common development. The aim is to promote greater fairness, justice, reason, and inclusivity in global governance on human rights. We will take an active part in UN human rights affairs, carry out extensive exchanges and cooperation with other countries, particularly developing countries, on human rights protection, and play a constructive role in this cause.

Human rights are concrete, rooted in history, and based on current realities. We cannot mouth empty words on human rights regardless of the social and political conditions and the historical and cultural traditions of a country. In evaluating the status of human rights in a given country, one cannot apply the standards of other countries. Adopting double standards or using human rights as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries is even more unacceptable. We must be proactive in telling China’s stories of human rights protection, with concrete examples, and present our ideas in a more engaging way to influence more people.

Party committees and Party leadership groups at all levels must take on their responsibilities for promoting human rights, strengthen leadership, and take active measures to effectively implement China’s National Human Rights Action Plan. Officials at all levels, particularly leading officials, must conscientiously study both the Marxist perspective and the Chinese outlook on human rights, strive to better understand the concept of human rights, build our confidence, and do a still better job in respecting and protecting human rights. All provincial authorities, central departments, and sectors of society must raise their awareness of respecting and safeguarding human rights and forge a synergy in advancing this cause.


* Main points of the speech at the 37th group study session of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)