On June 24, China's State Council Information Office released a white paper entitled The Communist Party of China (CPC) and Human Rights Protection—A 100-Year Quest, systematically illustrating the CPC's efforts to ensure the human rights of all Chinese citizens since the Party's founding in 1921.
China and countries like the United States and United Kingdom find themselves on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to human rights issues.
China values the right to life and the various rights that derive thereof, such as the rights to education and work, as well as legal and political rights. The West pays more attention to, for example, the right to freedom of speech, but whether people's words are then taken seriously is another thing.
By stark contrast, China's pattern of human rights is more tangible, whereas that of the West is more theoretical, at times arguably hypocritical.
The CPC's achievements in promoting human rights protection in the past century are especially noticeable across three aspects.
First, enabling all Chinese citizens to gain the most benefit from their rights. Looking back over the past 100 years, the CPC has united and led the people to lay down the political and institutional foundations to guarantee the rights and freedom of all people. Furthermore, the CPC managed to lead the Chinese people out of absolute poverty and enter a moderately prosperous society in all respects, their rights to health, work and education, etc., thus well protected.
Second, establishing a new concept of human rights focused on people-centered development. The CPC has always held the belief that living a life of contentment is the ultimate human right, striving to equip every single person with a stronger sense of gain, happiness and security. It spares no efforts to promote the coordination between economic and social development, citizen rights and political rights, so that the people can have equal access to development opportunities, share human dignity and realize the value of life.
Third, realizing diversity of human rights. The CPC believes that human rights are a result of the progress of human civilization. It is a universal, but also a specific and historical concept that keeps moving forward. There is no universally applicable standard or pattern of human rights, and every nation has to apply the principle of human rights within the context of their national conditions.
China's human rights suit China's social and historical development, in a form fit for China's national conditions and one widely accepted by the Chinese people.
China has tried to introduce its views on human rights on various international occasions, showcasing its efforts to promote human rights for its people. Concepts such as a community with a shared future for humanity, programs like the Belt and Road Initiative, and the abundant work China has done in the area of public health since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, are all associated with people's rights. The fact that more than 90 countries supported China's stance during the most recent UNHRC session proves that a large part of the international community now recognizes China's progress in human rights.
Previous concepts of human rights no longer befit the needs of the new era, and, similarly, today's human rights concepts will one day become outdated. This understanding of human rights is based on China's own experiences in the past century and bears a striking difference to the Western concept of the universality of human rights.
The question remains… Will the West be able to think outside its own box?