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Protecting human rights 'important' for China
2004-03-01 00:00

A senior official said Monday that the promotion of human rights is important for China.

"It has become an important task for China in the new century to respect and guarantee human rights, and to improve the efforts to protect human rights," said State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan.

He was addressing the members of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, an NGO comprising scholars and specialists on human rights.

Tang's remarks came days before the opening of this year's session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. The session will discuss and vote on an amendment of the Constitution which includes a clause that guarantees China's respect and protection of human rights.

Observers believe that the amendment not only sums up China's human rights efforts in legal terms but also makes it a fundamental rule for government departments to respect and protect human rights.

Apart from the human right protection practices and theoretical research, China has conducted dialogues with countries including the United States and the European Union over the years.

"Everywhere in the world people want human rights," said Zhu Muzhi, the society's honorary president. "But due to the different national conditions, their views and requirements for it vary."

On Zhu's list of differences are the attitudes toward the rights to life and development, the view about democracy and the relationship between sovereignty and human rights.

These differences over the understanding of human rights have been one of the major discords between China and a number of Western countries.

Last Wednesday, the US State Department issued Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003, again criticizing China for human rights deterioration.

The society's president Zhou Jue noted China's economic development and reform have provided conditions to guarantee its people's rights to life and development, while the nation's efforts to reform the political system and strengthen the legal system have allowed the Chinese to enjoy broader civil and political rights.

Among the latest efforts to protect human rights, the central government has taken measures to better protect the rights of the migrant workers, AIDS patients and the impoverished population.

"Even though things are far from perfect, generally speaking China has made remarkable achievements in human rights protection," said Zhou.


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