|China issues white paper on human rights|
BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government on Tuesday released a white paper detailing the progress made in human rights in 2012, stressing its achievements in improving living standards and increasing room for citizens to express their opinions.
"The cause of human rights in China has entered a stage of planned, sustainable, steady and comprehensive development," says the white paper, published by the State Council Information Office under the title "Progress in China's Human Rights in 2012."
Development is the key to solving all existing problems and facilitating the progress of human rights in China, the paper says.
China has combined its human rights endeavors with economic, political, cultural, social and ecological construction, it says.
The country has prioritized people's rights to subsistence and development and made efforts to promote the comprehensive and balanced development of their economic, social and cultural rights, as well as their civil and political rights, it notes.
"After years of unremitting efforts, China has reached a higher level in terms of people's living standards, democracy, rule of law, cultural development, social security and environmental protection," says the white paper.
In 2012, the annual per capita net income for both urban and rural residents increased, hefty investment was directed to poverty reduction programs, housing conditions were improved for both urban and rural residents and the state made proactive efforts to boost employment, according to the white paper.
Practical measures have been taken to ensure citizens' right to know and right to be heard, according to the white paper.
Deepened reform and the rapid development of information technology have given the public greater power to acquire information and express their opinions, it notes.
The creation of the Regulations on Government Information Disclosure has helped establish a system for disclosing information, the white paper says.
In 2012, more than 90 central government departments made their budgets and expenses for official receptions, vehicles and overseas trips known to the public. The Communist Party of China (CPC) continued to press ahead with making Party affairs public and established a spokesperson system for Party committees, the paper says.
The Internet has become an important channel for citizens to exercise their rights to know, participate, be heard and supervise, as well as become an important means for the government to hear public opinions, according to the white paper.
Democracy building at the grassroots level further expanded citizens' right to participate, the paper says.
By the end of 2012, direct elections had been held for over 98 percent of village committees across the country, with participation reaching 95 percent.
An important milestone in the development of China's human rights was the formation of a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, according to the paper. The legal system, which was completely established by the end of 2010, "ensures that the country's human rights protection is done within the framework of the law," the paper says.
In 2012, "respecting and protecting human rights" was added to the amended Criminal Procedure Law. The white paper described the addition as a major progress in China's human rights and of great significance in punishing criminals, protecting the public and safeguarding citizens' right to litigation.
New progress related to human rights protection has been made in the judicial field as well, according to the white paper.
China has enforced strict controls over and prudently applied the death penalty and protected the rights of detainees, the paper says.
In 2011, the death penalty was removed as a form of punishment for 13 economic and non-violent crimes, reducing the number of death penalty charges by nearly one-fifth.
In the same year, the Basic Standards for the Establishment of Clinics in Detention Centers were issued to improve living and medical conditions for detainees. By 2012, a detainee security risk assessment and ranking mechanism had been established in 2,391 detention centers, or 89.1 percent of the total number of centers.
According to the white paper, the government has adopted effective measures to respect and protect the right of the organs of self-governance in ethnic autonomous areas to exercise autonomy in recent years.
Marked improvement has been made in public services, the white paper says.
China has witnessed rapid progress in education and social security, expanded medical care coverage and accelerated the construction of affordable housing, according to the white paper.
Public cultural services have been made more equitable. More than 1.3 billion people are covered by medical insurance, the paper says.
The government has ensured that freedom of religious belief is protected, according to the white paper.
China upholds a policy of freedom of religious belief and ensures this freedom as an important part of its citizens' human rights, the paper says.
The white paper praised social organizations' role in promoting human rights causes. Social organizations are playing an important role in education, science and technology, culture, public health, social management, social welfare and charity work, it says.
In 2012 China's social organizations attracted over 25 million volunteers to participate in charity work.
Facing increasing resource constraints, severe environmental pollution and ecosystem degradation, the government has been working hard to ensure environmental rights and interests in recent years, the paper says.
A legal and policy framework has been established to protect citizens' environmental rights. The government has further strengthened environmental monitoring systems and worked to protect citizens' right to live in clean environment, according to the white paper.
From 2010 to 2012, the government constructively participated in UN human rights activities and made active efforts to meet the obligations stipulated by the international human rights conventions it has joined, the white paper says.