By Muhammad Asif Noor
As one of the most important members of the international community, China has made significant contributions to the cause of human rights both at home and abroad.
With a population of 1.4 billion, China is a thriving economy and a manufacturing powerhouse with global presence and therefore it cannot de-hyphenate from human rights protection at the national and global levels. It is part of 26 international human rights protocols, including six UN human rights treaties, and has actively participated in global human rights governance.
China has adopted a constitutional and just approach to human rights to ensure that people's civil liberties and independence are not curtailed. China's human rights doctrine is developmental in nature, and focuses on education, health, employment and the environment. That China has lifted about 800 million people out of absolute poverty in the past four decades is a testament to the success of its holistic approach to human rights protection.
Since the founding of the People's Republic, the country has been cognizant of the need for human rights development, because the Communist Party of China was founded on the very aim of stopping the human rights abuses by the ruling elites and exploitation of China by the imperial powers. Since then the CPC has been working to strengthen human rights protection.
Also, the CPC has published many documents on human rights protection and development in the country, and the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) takes China's human rights mission forward. Besides, the "Human Rights Action Plan (2021-25)", which China released on Sept 9, 2021, shows the government is committed to developing a political system to protect human rights not only in the country but also globally by opposing wars and injustice, and helping other countries overcome poverty by developing their economies.
The human rights action plan prioritizes basic human rights such as the rights to education, health and employment, and says China will protect the people's economic, social and cultural rights to meet their expectation for a better life, and create more favorable economic, social and cultural conditions to achieve this goal.
China will also make efforts to safeguard people's civil and political rights, and help them take effective part in social affairs, thus laying a sound democratic and legal foundation for their well-rounded development. In particular, the plan says, China will reinforce the equal protection of the rights and interests of particular groups and provide them with extra assistance to ensure everyone can share the fruits of development.
Equally importantly, the plan highlights the importance of safeguarding environmental rights, which is necessary for sustaining all forms of life, including human life. Accordingly, the plan says, China will cherish clear waters and green mountains as invaluable assets, continue to respect, work with and protect Mother Nature, and promote the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.
China released the new human rights action plan after making remarkable achievements on the economic and social fronts, and taking all necessary measures to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, because its goal is also to improve the global human rights governance mechanism
Addressing the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council last year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the UN, according to China's concept of human rights, should consider economic development as a global human right in the interest of humankind. In fact, in line with its human rights policy, China is helping other countries to boost their economic development to alleviate poverty and illiteracy, and create more jobs, in order to improve people's livelihoods.
China has helped establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRICS New Development Bank and the Silk Road Fund to fund infrastructure, communication and industrial projects in developing countries, because it believes that only with economic development can we better protect human rights.
Although China's emphasis on "human rights, education and research" and "participation in global human rights governance" reflect its goal of ensuring that every person shares the fruits of development, there is still a need to raise global public awareness about China's developmental stance on human rights.
The author is founder of Friends of BRI Forum, an initiative by Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies in Pakistan.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.