|Statement by Ambassador SHA Zukang, Head of the Chinese Delegation, on Item 9 at the 58th Session of the Commission on Human Rights|
The Commission on Human Rights, the leading body in the UN human rights system, should have been a forum for countries to have exchange of views and dialogue in the field of human rights on an equal footing and explore together ways to improve human rights situations in all countries. Unfortunately it has been turned into a battlefield for ideological confrontations. The deliberation under this item is particularly abnormal. As everybody can see, in recent years, almost all country-specific resolutions adopted under this item are targeted against developing countries. This has left people with a false impression that human rights problems are the "patent" of developing countries while developed countries are impeccable. The statements made by some developed countries in this hall are full of high-sounding words, but what they have done is quite another story. By taking a little time to review the statements by dignitaries from Cuba and Pakistan on 26 March, one will get some perspective and enlightenment. The Chinese delegation holds that only by abandoning double standards and restoring the principle of equality can the Commission expect to keep its objectivity and fairness.
China is a developing country with 1.3 billion people. The enjoyment of all human rights for all of our people is at the highest level ever attained in its history. We are proud of the achievements, but we do not rest content with them. For that reason, in the past year, the Chinese Government kept up its efforts to develop the economy. Against the backdrop of a general slow-down in the global economy, China has registered a 7.3 % growth in its GDP. The incomes of the urban and rural populations have increased by 8.5% and 4.2% respectively. The number of the rural poor has dropped by 4 million and the average life expectancy of our people has reached 71.8 years. In an effort to build up democracy and the rule of law, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has, over the past year, adopted 20 laws and regulations and revised such laws as Trade Union Law, Law on Judges, Public Procurators' Law and Lawyers Act. These new legislation and revision are of great significance to enhancing labor protection and to ensuring fairness in the administration of justice. At the same time, a system of legal aid has been put in place in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. There are now 2,274 legal aid agencies in the country, which are working vigorously to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the vulnerable groups. The government is also open and active in promoting international exchanges and cooperation in the field of human rights. How on earth is the human rights situation in China? Come and find it out yourself. Take your steps and walk around, open your eyes and have a look, lend your ears and listen to what people say, and compare with how China was in the past, then it will not be so hard for any unbiased person to draw an objective conclusion. In the new century, the Chinese Government and people have the resolve and confidence to make even greater achievements in the cause of human rights. We welcome all well-intentioned cooperation and assistance in our endeavor. At the same time, we stand firmly against any vicious slandering and defamation.
Since the opening of this session, some delegates including that from EU have made improper comments about China's human rights situation. I cannot but say a few words about it to set the record straight.
Some claim that the Chinese Government restricts freedom of speech and association. The fact is, China's Constitution explicitly provides for the freedom of speech, publication, assembly and association. Governments at various levels in China encourage citizens to air different views on the performance of the government and welcome the monitoring role of the mass media. The deliberations by the just-concluded National People's Congress session of the government's work report and media's extensive coverage about this event is just a recent case in point. At present, there are over 2,000 nation-wide NGOs working actively in such areas as human rights, environment protection and charity, they are playing a positive role in their respective fields with growing influence.
It is alleged that there is no religious freedom in China. The fact is, there are five major religions practiced in China with a total of more than 100 million believers. They can freely attend church services, make pilgrimage to Mecca or pray in Buddhist temples. All religions are equal in China and they coexist in peace and harmony. There has never been any religious war in the history of China.
Some people have accused China of oppression and human rights violation in Tibet and Xinjiang. The fact is, only fifty years ago, Tibet was ruled by a theocracy under a system of feudal serfdom, where slaves were traded freely and 95% of the population lived in abject poverty. At present, sea change has taken place in the field of human rights in Tibet. People's basic needs for food and clothing have been met and some of them are even leading a well-to-do life. Its population has grown from 1 million to 2.61 million, of which 92% are Tibetans. The Tibetan legal system, set up according to the Constitution and the Law on the Autonomy of Minority Nationality Regions, provides effective guarantee to the full enjoyment of autonomy, democracy, human rights and freedoms by Tibetans. Xinjiang is another autonomous region with a large ethnic minority population. The Chinese Government has made great efforts to ensure their exercise of religious belief, such as earmarking special funds to refurbish mosques and assisting the Muslims in making pilgrimage to Mecca. Religious leaders are encouraged to take part in the running of political, economic, cultural and social affairs. I have to point out that those terrorists trained in camps abroad, and sneaked in with overseas funding will not have the freedom to continue their terrorist activities in China. We are convinced that in the new century, with the full implementation of the government's program for developing China's western region, the economic development and social progress in Tibet and Xinjiang will make even greater strides.
Before concluding, I would like to reiterate that Falun Gong is an evil cult. It advocates worshipping cult leader and spreads the doomsday theory. It dissuaded its followers from seeking medication and encouraging them to commit collective self-immolation. Some of the practitioners have gone as far as killing their loving parents, wives and children in most horrifying ways. The ban on Falun Gong by the Chinese Government according to law is precisely for the protection of human rights of all people, including those practitioners.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.