The Secret to China’s Social Progress

China has never believed in the need for a ‘universal human rights standard,’ but insists all social progress must be pushed forward in every nation’s unique context, considering the specific demands of its people.

The State Council Information Office released a white paper on August 12 titled Moderate Prosperity in All Respects: Another Milestone Achieved in China’s Human Rights.

China’s realization of moderate prosperity for all serves as a solid foundation for human rights, according to the white paper. It represents the comprehensive progress made in China, and a new contribution to the world’s human rights cause.

“China’s approach and experience have provided a distinctive path forward for human progress,” it says.

The Chinese people completed a historic transformation over the past decades, moving from poverty to secure access to food and clothing, to a decent life, and finally to moderate prosperity, mirroring the true meaning of human rights.

China adheres to a concept rather different from that upheld by many Western states. It has never believed in the need for a “universal human rights standard,” but insists all social progress must be pushed forward in every nation’s unique context, considering the specific demands of its people. It stresses that developing countries should safeguard human rights by combining the principal needs of humanity and the particular essentials of their own specific populace.

Poverty relief assistants Liu Ying (1st L) and He Changle (2nd L), as well as village officers, help carry melons planted by villagers in Dongqin Village, Congjiang County of southwest China’s Guizhou Province, Nov. 11, 2020.(Photo/Xinhua)

Based on its people-centered concept, the Communist Party of China (CPC) observes the rights to subsistence and development as primary human rights. In addition, the Party promotes the people’s economic, political and cultural rights in a coordinated manner to guarantee their equal prospects of development. This is the true secret to China’s consistent social progress and evolving human rights.

The CPC and the Chinese Government have in the past decades adopted practical measures to develop a whole-process people’s democracy, uphold social equity and justice, and ensure that people enjoy more extensive rights and freedoms. Only the Chinese people can be the judge of their country’s human rights status.

China has benefited from this approach during the process of establishing its moderately prosperous society in all respects. The long-term rapid economic growth, the rising per-capita income, targeted poverty alleviation, protection of the more vulnerable, the full coverage of social security and compulsory education systems, 5G telecommunication technology and the ever-improving ecological environment are all testament to the big strides China has made.

Today, the Chinese people are marching down the road leading toward national rejuvenation. China’s human rights vision, based on its national conditions and people’s aspirations, has made a great difference in the once impoverished country.

Aerial photo taken on May 2, 2021 shows visitors at Shenxianju scenic area in Taizhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province. (Photo/Xinhua)

It is a basic Marxist belief that a country’s economy is the foundation of the superstructure. The moderate prosperity not only cements a stable material basis, but also represents a new starting point for China’s human rights development. The Chinese people are going to have more access to democracy. In addition to expressing opinions online, new ways have been explored to improve governance at the community level, enabling residents to address local concerns more efficiently through consultations at council meetings.

China’s achievements in respecting and warranting human rights are guided by the people-centered principle. This approach is probably more popular than its Western counterpart based on the somewhat conservative notions of liberalism and capitalism.

The fight against COVID-19 demonstrates the practices and results of both concepts. China, seeing the life and health of its people as the No.1 priority, opted to take effective, strict and comprehensive measures to deal with the pandemic—albeit at a tremendous economic cost. It succeeded in controlling the virus, subsequently protecting society at large. By stark contrast, the United States, in spite of its “liberal” human rights concept, allowed for the wildfire-like spread of COVID-19 all in the name of protecting the economy. Hundreds of thousands of Americans paid the price with their lives.

By advancing human rights in its own context, China has delivered a successful testimonial to the rest of the world. China’s success not only adds diversity to human civilization, but also provides a new frame of reference for international human rights endeavors.