The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China published a white paper titled “New Progress in the Legal Protection of Human Rights in China” on Friday.
Following is the full text of the white paper:
New Progress in the Legal Protection of Human Rights in China
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
First Edition 2017
I. Improving the Legal Framework to Ensure Human Rights
II. Promoting Law-based Administration to Protect the Citizens’ Lawful Rights and Interests
III. Effectively Enhancing Judicial Protection of Human Rights
IV. Consolidating Social Mechanisms for Legal Protection of Human Rights
V. Strengthening the CPC Leadership over Legal Protection of Human Rights
VI. Actively Promoting the Development of Global Human Rights Under the Rule of Law
The rule of law is a symbol of human progress, and serves as the guarantee for ensuring human rights. It is the determination and ultimate goal of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government to fully implement law-based governance of the country, strengthen legal protection of human rights in all areas, ensure that the Chinese people fully enjoy their rights and freedoms, achieve social fairness and justice, and promote overall human development and social progress.
Over the years China has upheld the law-based governance of the country as a basic guideline, striving to put the rule of law in a socialist context and making new progress in legal protection of human rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party’s Central Committee with Xi Jinping as its core has maintained people-oriented development. As an integral part of its effort to modernize the state governance system and capacity, it has created a strategy of fully enforcing the law-based governance of the country, giving more weight to respecting and ensuring human rights in building socialism under the rule of law, and opening a new era of legal protection of human rights in China.
In implementing the law-based governance of the country, China has upheld human rights in every link of the process, from legislation through law enforcement and judicial justice to a law-abiding society. Respecting and ensuring human rights has become an important principle in legislation, and the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, with the Constitution at its core, has been steadily improved. Law-based governance has been further implemented, and the exercise of administrative power has been regulated to a fuller extent. Judicial reform has been extended, with the goal of ensuring fairness and justice in every case handled. Further progress has been made in ensuring the rule of law for society, with a significant improvement in elevating public awareness in law and human rights, and the CPC, upholding law-based governance, has laid a solid foundation for legal protection of human rights.
After five years of strenuous effort in reform and development, China has made remarkable progress in law-based human rights protection. People’s basic rights and freedoms are now better protected under Chinese socialism. The undertaking of human rights protection in China has made much headway. Committed to a great and unprecedented cause, China is contributing to the diversity of human civilization and providing Chinese wisdom and solutions to promote social progress.
I. Improving the Legal Framework to Ensure Human Rights
A complete system of laws is the precondition and the basis for realizing legal protection of human rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has, to a fuller extent, established the Chinese socialist legal system with the Constitution at the core, the laws as the main body, including administrative and local regulations, and various law-related departments, thus laying a solid legal foundation for ensuring human rights.
Improving legislative systems and mechanisms. China has revised the Legislation Law, and strengthened the systems for documenting and reviewing regulations, rules, and other normative documents. There is a clear provision that relevant bodies must take the initiative in reviewing normative documents, send feedback to those who request to have the documents reviewed, and release the results to the public. China has rescinded and corrected laws, regulations and normative documents which conflicted with the Constitution or laws, so that there is no impediment to the functioning of the Constitution and other laws. In 2016 legislative bodies reviewed and put on record 37 administrative regulations and judicial interpretations, reviewed local regulations in targeted areas, and handled 92 requests to review such documents.
China has improved the allocation of legislative power in the context of local development, and accorded local legislative powers to 240 cities with districts, 30 autonomous prefectures, and 4 prefecture-level cities. By October 2017 the cities and prefectures with newly accorded legislative powers had issued 456 local regulations and 193 government rules. It is stipulated in the Legislation Law that rules and regulations made by a department or local government, if not based on laws enacted by upper levels, must not impair the rights of citizens, legal persons, and other organizations, or increase the scope of their obligations, and must not increase the power of that department or reduce that department’ s duties prescribed by law.
China has included in its legislation program major reform measures that need to be addressed through legislative procedure, and has revised or abolished laws that fell out of pace with reform. From 2013 to June 2017, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) made 17 legislation authorizations and reform decisions in accordance with legal procedures, ensuring that relevant reforms proceed in an orderly manner within the legal framework.
China has improved its legislative process, including procedures such as discussions, hearings, and soliciting public opinion on draft laws, so that the laws reflect the people’s will. By October 2017 the 12th NPC Standing Committee had solicited public opinion on draft laws on 74 occasions. For the draft General Provisions of Civil Law alone, the Standing Committee held three deliberation sessions, sought public opinion on three occasions and organized several dozen expert meetings, and received 70,227 suggestions from 15,422 people. When deliberating on the second reading draft of Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law, the Committee received more than 110,000 suggestions from the public.
Fully protecting the citizens’ rights and interests by enacting the General Provisions of Civil Law. Adopted at the Fifth Session of the 12th NPC, the General Provisions of Civil Law, developed with the purpose of protecting people’s rights, offer clear provisions on the basic principles of equality, free will, fairness, and honesty, give prominence to autonomy of will and protection of rights and interests, and reflect the legislators’ intention of giving full protection to the person, upholding the value of the individual, and ensuring personal development. The Provisions have strengthened protection of property rights, stipulating that the “property rights of civil subjects are equally protected by law”, through which the equal protection of real rights in Property Law is expanded to equal protection of all property rights. The Provisions have strengthened protection of the civil rights of specific subjects, and in particular of the rights and interests of minors, and have included senior citizens in the guardianship system. By enacting the Provisions China has established a complete civil rights system, with clear stipulations that privacy rights are protected by law, and strengthened the protection of personal information, data, and virtual assets online.
Improving legislation on economic, social and cultural rights. It has been made clear that tax categories, tax rates, tax collection and management, and other basic taxation systems can only be set and defined by law. To protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers, China has revised the Employment Promotion Law, the Labor Contract Law, the Law on Production Safety, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Occupational Disease. To enhance protection of people’s health, it has promulgated the Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine and revised the Food Safety Law. China has revised the Law on Population and Family Planning, now encouraging all couples to have two children. China has enacted the Law on Ensuring Public Cultural Services and the Film Industry Promotion Law, in an effort to enrich public cultural services, standardize these services and make them more equally available, and ensure the people’ s cultural rights. To protect its citizens’ right to education, China has revised the Education Law to promote equality and balanced development of education, accelerate expansion of the scope of preschool education, and build a public service network for preschool education that covers the whole country, especially rural areas. With the promulgation of the Interim Regulations on Residence Permit, all permanent residents in cities and towns are covered by basic public services and are able to enjoy access to urban infrastructure. Some other laws that have been amended or revised include the laws on environmental protection, prevention and control of air pollution, protection of wild animals, marine environmental protection, prevention and control of water pollution, environmental impact assessment, and prevention and control of environmental pollution caused by solid wastes. To strengthen environmental supervision and accountability, improve public interest litigation on environmental protection, and ensure citizens’ right to know about, participate in and oversee environment-related issues, China has enacted the Law on Environmental Protection Tax. To register all types of real estate, ensure transaction security, and protect the legitimate property rights of owners of the immovable, China has promulgated the Interim Regulations on Real Estate Registration. In order to protect the personal information of consumers, increase the liability for damage caused by fraud on the part of business operators, regulate unfair terms in contracts prepared by operators, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, China has revised the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests. To promote exchanges and cooperation involving overseas non-governmental organizations in China, China has enacted the Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations Within the Territory of People’s Republic of China. And to strengthen supervision over charity organizations and charity activities, regulate the use of charity property, promote the development of charity in China, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of charity organizations, donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, and other participants in charity activities, China has promulgated the Charity Law.
Improving legislation on civil and political rights. China has revised the Criminal Law, abolishing nine death penalty charges and raising the bar on executing convicts that have received a death sentence with a two-year reprieve; revised the Civil Procedure Law, allowing procuratorial organs to lodge civil public interest lawsuits; and revised the Administrative Procedure Law, to improve the administrative adjudication system, expand the scope of accepting administrative litigation cases, relax restrictions on the qualification of plaintiffs in administrative litigation and third parties, strengthen supervision over administrative adjudication and enforcement of court rulings, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of parties in administrative proceedings. The Standing Committee of the NPC passed the Decision on Annulment of the Regulations on Education Through Labor, putting an end to this sanction. To implement the rule of law and promote humanitarianism, China has implemented the amnesty system stipulated in the Constitution, and granted amnesty for four types of criminals. China has promulgated the National Security Law, National Intelligence Law, Counter-Espionage Law, Counter-Terrorism Law, Cyber Security Law, and Nuclear Security Law. The central government, also known as the State Council, and relevant departments have issued a series of administrative regulations on cyber security; the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued the “Interpretation on Several Issues Regarding the Applicable Law in Cases of Using Information Networks to Commit Defamation and Other Such Crimes” and other judicial interpretations, providing a solid legal basis for safeguarding national security, public security, and personal and property security.
Strengthening legislation on ensuring the rights of special groups. China has enacted the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, and set up systems such as written admonition, personal safety protection writ, and compulsory report, making clear the legal liabilities of the perpetrators and the procedure of investigation in order to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of victims of domestic violence, particularly minors, the elderly, the disabled, pregnant and lactating women, and the seriously ill. China has revised the Criminal Law, increasing criminal punishment for buyers of abducted women and children, and has criminalized such acts. It is clearly stipulated that anyone who maltreats a minor, an elderly person, a sick person, or a disabled person, for whose support they are responsible, will be held criminally liable if the case is serious. China has formulated the Regulations on School Bus Safety to ensure students’ personal safety; and enacted and revised the Regulations on Building an Accessible Environment, Regulations on Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, and Regulations on Education for Persons with Disability, to enhance protection of the rights of disabled persons. A gender equality evaluation mechanism for laws and policies had been set up in 27 provinces and equivalent administrative units by June 2017.
II. Promoting Law-based Administration to Protect the Citizens’ Lawful Rights and Interests
Law-based administration is important in legal protection of human rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China has made it clear that all government functions and powers must be provided for in the law, strictly regulated the administrative enforcement of law, strengthened checks and scrutiny over government power, and put into effect the “Implementation Outline for Building a Law-based Government (2015-2020)”, thereby effectively protecting the people’s legitimate rights and interests.
Delimiting administrative power in accordance with the law. That all government functions and powers are provided for in the law is the prerequisite for law-based administration. The state has accelerated the process of defining in law the administrative structure and its functions, powers, procedures and responsibilities, prohibited administrative organs from expanding power beyond the law, and confined the exercise of power in an institutional “cage.”
China is also pressing ahead with the reform of administrative approval. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the State Council departments have canceled the requirement for administrative approval on 618 items and put an end to the practice of non-administrative approval, and 269 items designated by the central government for local government approvals and accreditations have been annulled. The State Council has removed 320 intermediary services from administrative approval, and cut off over 70 percent of professional qualification approvals and accreditations set by its departments. The investment catalogue for government approval has been revised three times, by means of which the number of investment items requiring central government approval has fallen by 90 percent.
China has implemented the system of power or responsibility list, through which the public can obtain information about government functions, duties and powers, and their legal basis. By 2016, 31 provincial-level governments had published such lists.
The Chinese government has strengthened the supervision and management of normative documents. Normative documents issued by government organs should not set items for administrative permission, punishment or coercion. All administrative regulations and normative documents must be filed for record and examined, and mistakes, if any, must be investigated.
Checking in accordance with the law the exercise of administrative power. China aims to establish an authoritative and efficient administrative law enforcement system in which power is consistent with responsibility.
The Chinese government has accelerated the reform of the administrative law enforcement system, and further promoted synthesized law enforcement in fields such as food and drug safety, industrial and commercial quality inspection, public health, workplace safety, resource and environment protection, traffic and transport, and urban and rural construction.
It has improved the administrative law enforcement procedure, and explored the means to establish a benchmark system for discretion in enforcement. In some areas China has conducted three experiments: disclosing information concerning administrative law enforcement, recording the whole enforcement process, and reviewing the legality of major enforcement decisions.
The government has tried out innovative enforcement methods, and widespread non-coercive ones, including persuasion, teaching, citing good examples, and administrative guidance and rewards. It has regulated words and conduct of law-enforcement personnel, and required them to be flexible, reasonable and open in their approach to enforcement. It has established a qualification system for enforcement personnel and prohibited anyone without the required license from serving.
In order to make full progress in building a law-abiding public security system, the Chinese government issued the “Decisions on Further Regulating the Public Security Departments in Law Enforcement”, established more detailed law-enforcement standards and guidance, improved the supervision and management system, and amplified the law-based decision-making mechanism. By the end of June 2017, 2.27 million police officers all over the country had basic level certification for law enforcement, 1.35 million had obtained mid-level certification, and almost 41,000 had gained upper-level certification.
China has expanded the auditing of all aspects of government affairs, especially in areas like public funds, state property, national resources, and how officials in leading positions fulfill economic duties. It has published the audit results regularly, so as to give a full play to the role of audit in scrutinizing and checking the exercise of power.
The Chinese government has strengthened the accountability investigation for administrative errors. To build a responsible government, it has set up a mechanism of internal legitimacy review of major decisions, and explored the means to establish and implement a lifelong liability accounting system for major decisions and a retrospective mechanism to hold people accountable for wrong decisions. Abiding by the principle that the decision-maker assumes the responsibility, anyone who causes heavy losses by exceeding his/her competence or infringing the decision-making procedure must be held accountable.
In order to raise officials’ awareness of responsibilities for protecting the ecological system and people’s environmental rights, the Measures for Liability Investigation of Party and Government Officials for Damage to Ecological Environment (trial) stipulate that both senior Party officials and leading government officials will have lifelong accountability for 25 specified types of damage to the ecological environment.
Safeguarding in accordance with the law the citizens’ right to participate in administrative decision making. The government has improved decision-making procedures, which define public participation, expert evaluation, risk assessment, legality review, and collective discussion and decision as the legal procedures for making major administrative decisions.
The central government has encouraged local governments at or above the county level to employ legal advisers and lawyers to provide legal opinions for major administrative decisions and actions.
China has also explored to set up a consulting expert database for administrative decisions. The governments invite experts and specialized institutes to discuss on those decision matters of strong professional or technological nature, so as to increase their capabilities in law-based administration.
When making decisions on people’s livelihood like E-hailing and express delivery services, the related departments of the Chinese government solicited opinions from a wide range of circles to balance the interests and requests of different groups.
Protecting in accordance with the law the citizens’ right to scrutinize the exercise of administrative power. In the context of the Regulations on the Disclosure of Government Information and adhering to the principle that information is to be withheld only in exceptional circumstances, the government prioritizes for information disclosure in such fields as administrative approval, fiscal budget and final accounts, basic need housing, food and drug safety, land requisition and resettlement of displaced residents.
New channels of disclosure have been created. The government has improved online government information services and online administrative services, giving a greater role to IT in the disclosure of government information and making public access to such information more convenient. The websites of 126 government departments have been upgraded for the benefit of people with disabilities.
The government has set up a registration system that allows complaints and reports of illegal conduct by administrative departments to be made via mail, email, hotlines and other channels of supervision. It also attaches importance to the supervisory role of traditional media like newspapers, periodicals, broadcasters and television, and regulates and accepts online oversight.
Tackling in accordance with the law the serious issues that infringe the citizens’ rights of life, health and property. The government takes a zero-tolerance attitude toward environmental pollution. In accordance with the law, the government has closed or rectified small, poorly-managed and heavily-polluting enterprises, and enterprises that illegally discharge pollutants.
The government has strengthened inspection and law enforcement in the catering industry, encouraging open restaurant kitchens.
In order to ensure workplace safety, the government has enhanced supervisory inspections to seek out hidden hazards and dangers through regular open and secret visits, unannounced investigations, and random checks.
China prioritizes the fight against telemarketing scams and internet fraud. The Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and other 21 ministries and institutions have established an interdepartmental meeting mechanism on fighting new forms of telemarketing scams and internet fraud, and the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and several other departments have jointly issued the “Notice on Deterring and Combating Crimes of Telemarketing Scams and Internet Fraud”. Through investigation, punishment and prevention of crimes, the related departments have improved the relevant law-enforcement mechanisms, stopped the spread of such crimes, and safeguarded the people’s security and property.
The government has strengthened social governance and fostered innovation in this regard. By strengthening and innovating governance of a safe society, integrating such governance with the systemic, comprehensive and law-based governance, and addressing the root causes of problems, China has resolved a number of serious problems that threatened the social peace and order. The public’s sense of security has been further reinforced.
III. Effectively Enhancing Judicial Protection of Human Rights
The judicial system plays a significant role in human rights protection. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has put people first in its judicial system, integrated criminal punishment with human rights protection, pressed ahead with judicial system reform, continuously developed and improved a socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics, and endeavored to embody fairness and justice in each and every legal case.
Guaranteeing independent and impartial enforcement of judicial and procuratorial authorities as per the law. Thanks to comprehensive implementation of judicial accountability reform, improvement of the classified management system of judicial personnel, and full adoption of judge quota system reform, the number of judges has been streamlined from 198,800 to 120,000, and procurators from 158,000 to 86,000. Further progress has been made in standardization, specialization and professionalization. According to the principle that those who review a case pass judgment, and those who pass judgment are held accountable, judges and procurators are subject to life-long accountability for cases they handle during their service. Based on strict implementation of judicial accountability, a career security system in line with professional characteristics of judicial personnel has been established.
The mechanism that guarantees performance of duty of judicial personnel in accordance with the law has been improved, clearly stipulating that judges and procurators are to be free from interference by administrative organs, social groups and individuals when handling cases as per the law. Provincial-level courts and procuratorates have direct jurisdiction over the staffing, finance and property of their subordinate courts and procuratorates, and circuit courts under the Supreme People’s Court and trans-regional courts and procuratorates have been set up to handle trans-regional cases in a concentrated way. The enforcement mechanism of judicial power, which explicitly differentiates power and responsibility, features effective supervision and regulation, and guarantees protection, continues to be improved.
Pressing forward with reform of the criminal litigation system centering on trials. Basic evidence criteria at all stages of criminal litigation have to be made clear to ensure that factual evidence must withstand the test of the law, that innocent people are safeguarded from criminal punishment, and that the guilty ones are brought to justice. “The Opinions on Pushing Forward the Reform of the Criminal Litigation System Centering on Trials” and its implementing rules have been released to accelerate the reform of the criminal litigation system centering on trials, to strictly carry out the principle of assessing penalty by law, evidence-based adjudication and excluding illegally-obtained evidence, to guarantee legalization and justification of trial procedures, and to ensure that trial in court plays a decisive role in investigating facts, confirming evidence, protecting litigants’ rights, and impartially adjudicating cases. A mechanism to separate complicated cases from simple ones has been applied to handle each in a distinct way. Since 2014, when the summary proceeding for criminal cases was adopted as trial in 18 cities including Beijing, pilot courts have concluded over 90 percent of cases within ten days of filing, with a rate of appeal of only 2 percent. Trial effectiveness and litigation efficiency have seen considerable improvement, and the rights of litigants have been effectively protected. In addition, the pilot reform of imposing lesser penalties on suspects who admit their guilt and accept punishment has been extended. To increase litigation efficiency, effectively reduce social conflict, and repair social relations as quickly as possible, lesser penalties will be imposed on criminal suspects and defendants who acknowledge their guilt, accept punishment, return ill-gotten gains, or make compensation as per the law.
Guaranteeing individual rights and interests in litigation. People’s courts have changed the case filing review system into a case filing register system to put every case on file and review any litigation to completely protect the litigious rights of the parties concerned. Since the adoption of the case register system in May 2015 people’s courts have registered and taken up on the spot 95 percent or more of the cases. By September 2017 over 39 million cases had been filed through registration. The Ministry of Public Security has released the “Opinions on Reforming and Improving the System of Accepting and Filing Cases”, stipulating that public security organs must accept cases within their jurisdiction reported by people or handed over by superior organs and counterparts, and deal without any prevarication with accusation, seizure and delivery, and voluntary surrender. By June 2017 public security organs at provincial level had released opinions on carrying out reform on accepting and filing cases, and 18 provincial public security organs had set up case management departments to make case acceptance and filing more standardized, effective, convenient, and transparent.
Abiding by the rules concerning excluding illegally-obtained evidence. In order to regulate investigation and interrogation activities, we need to put in place strict rules concerning excluding illegally-obtained evidence stipulated by the Criminal Procedure Law, further clarify the scope and requirements of interrogation recording for cases subject to audio and video recording, and require that procuratorates and public security organs must have complete real-time audio and video recording when interrogating suspects concerning power abuse, those who might incur life imprisonment or the death penalty, and other suspects of major crimes. Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Strict Exclusion of Illegally-obtained Evidence in Handling Criminal Cases has been released, further clarifying criteria and exclusion processes for illegally-obtained evidence at all stages of criminal procedure. Evidence collected by means of threat or illegal confinement should be subject to the rules of excluding illegally-obtained evidence. There are rules on exclusion of repeated illegally-obtained evidence, and the defense counsel now has more say in excluding illegally-obtained evidence. The Provisions clarify preliminary review functions of the pretrial conference on legitimacy of collected evidence, exclusion rules concerning illegally-obtained witness testimony, statements of victims and tangible evidence, and the principle of on-court verdict. Since 2013 procuratorates have withheld their approval in the case of 2,624 arrests, and declined to prosecute 870 accused through exclusion of illegally-obtained evidence.
Preventing and correcting wrongful convictions. The Ministry of Public Security issued the “Notice on Further Strengthening and Improving Law Enforcement to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice” and other documents to reinforce the mechanism and system preventing miscarriages of justice, improve the law enforcement system and case handling criteria, strengthen case scrutiny, and regulate the procedures of assessing, evaluating, rewarding and penalizing law enforcement personnel to prevent miscarriages of justice at source. The Ministry of Justice released the “Opinions on Maximizing the Functions of the Forensic Assessment System to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice” to strengthen all-round forensic assessment management and further regulate such activities. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate released “Several Opinions on Effectively Performing Procuratorial Functions to Prevent and Correct Miscarriages of Justice”, scrutinizing all activities concerning evidence, procedures and application of laws, improving the system of discovery, correction, and prevention of cases of misjudgment, and holding to account those responsible. The Supreme People’s Court issued the “Opinions on Establishing and Improving the Working Mechanisms for the Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice in Criminal Cases”, stipulating that the defendant should be acquitted in cases of lack of evidence, and no one should be punished without criminal evidence. People’s courts at all levels conduct impartial trials in line with fact and law and make corrections when they find wrongful cases. From 2013 to 2017 they corrected 37 wrongful convictions involving 61 people, and acquitted 4,032 defendants as per the law.
Protecting lawyers’ right to practice. The protection of lawyers’ right to practice is essential to protecting the lawful rights and interests of their clients and ensuring proper enforcement of the laws. China has formulated or revised multiple laws, regulations and documents to better respect and guarantee lawyers’ right to practice. “The Opinions on Deepening the Reform on the Lawyer System”, the Regulations on Guaranteeing Lawyers’ Right to Practice by Law, the “Notice on Formulating and Completing Fast Response Mechanism to Safeguard Lawyers’ Right to Practice”, the “Notice on Further Improving the Work to Guarantee Lawyers’ Right to Practice”, and the Measures on the Pilot Work to Apply Lawyer Defense to All Criminal Cases have been released, stipulating multiple-level measures to protect lawyers’ right to practice, resolve prominent conflicts in the protection of lawyers’ rights, and further clarify the duties of relevant departments to protect lawyers’ right to practice and the right of persons. The Supreme People’s Court has opened an online service platform for lawyers. Via this platform, lawyers will be able to file cases, access files, and contact judges. Since 2013 procuratorates at all levels have regulated and corrected 6,542 cases in which lawyers’ right to practice were being impeded by state organs and case-handling personnel. By March 2017 rights protection centers had been established in 31 provincial-level lawyers’ associations and in most cities with districts, basically covering the whole country. By August 2017 there were more than 330,000 lawyers and over 26,000 law firms across the country. Every year lawyers handle over 3.3 million lawsuits, more than one million non-litigation legal matters, take on over 500,000 cases of legal aid, offer public legal services in more than 2.3 million cases, and act as legal consultant for more than 500,000 entities.
Guaranteeing the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects, defendants and prisoners. China has improved the procedures for granting exemptions from or altering of compulsory measures to suspects in custody and defendants, and reduced the application of compulsory measures of custody. Procuratorates at all levels, in accordance with the law, decide not to arrest or prosecute anyone for acts that they do not consider to be a crime or when there is insufficient evidence, and contest the criminal ruling when they believe that there is a real error in accordance with the law. From 2012 to 2016, procuratorial organs across the country recommended release or changes in the compulsory measures in case of 12,552 criminal suspects who did not require further detention. In 2016, procuratorial organs at all levels urged the withdrawal of 10,661 cases that they considered should not have been filed by investigation organs. They scrutinized and corrected 34,230 cases of investigation activities involving obtaining evidence in contravention of the law, and illegally applying compulsory measures. They rejected the arrest of 132,081 suspects and the prosecution of 26,670 accused for acts that did not constitute a crime or where there was insufficient evidence, and they filed 7,185 criminal counter appeals against wrong judgment.
The state has improved the conditions of detention and supervision, strengthened the construction and management of detention facilities and prisons, and guaranteed personal safety and other legitimate rights and interests of detainees and prisoners. By June 2017, psychological counseling rooms had been widely established in detention centers in China; 2,501 detention centers had two-way video calling services through the internet for detainees and prisoners, and more than 2,400 detention centers across the country had set up legal aid workstations to provide legal assistance to detainees. As of 2016, all detention centers in the country had set up complaint-handling mechanisms for detainees, and 2,489 detention centers had appointed special supervisors. China has improved the execution of penalties and the institutions of community correction.[Community correction refers to non-imprisonment correction penalty imposed on those whose crimes are relatively minor and who have been sentenced to public surveillance, probation, release on parole, and temporary execution outside prison.] By the end of June 2017, administrative organs of justice around the country had received a total of 3.4 million persons subject to community correction. Of these, 2.7 million had completed their correction, and 700,000 continued their community correction. A total of 2,075 county and district community correction centers have been set up nationwide. There are 25,278 community service bases, 9,373 education bases, 8,272 employment bases, and 687,000 community correction groups in China. The recidivism rate in the case of those assigned to community correction is 0.2 percent.
Improving the legal assistance system. China has reinforced criminal legal assistance. China has implemented provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law and other relevant laws and regulations on legal assistance. It has established a working mechanism of legal assistance contributing to the settlement of cases involving victim-offender reconciliation and the review of death penalty, and the legal assistance duty counsel system. China has improved the mechanisms for providing legal assistance to applicants, and for public security organs and procuratorates to notify the defendants about the legal assistance. China has improved the pilot mechanism for legal assistance playing a role in summary trial procedures for criminal cases; and provided legal assistance to more criminal litigants in accordance with the law. China has expanded the coverage of civil and administrative legal assistance and gradually included matters closely related to people’s life into the scope of legal assistance. China has relaxed the criteria for economic difficulty applying to entitlement to legal assistance, further lowered the threshold for legal assistance, and helped more people in need. China has improved the mechanism of providing convenient legal assistance to the public, striven to achieve full coverage of legal assistance consultancy services, and promoted the standardization of legal assistance. From 2013 to 2016, a total of RMB7.3 billion was used for handling more than 5 million legal assistance cases, helping more than 5.57 million people and providing legal consultancy services in more than 28 million cases.
Strengthening criminal judicial protection of juveniles. China has persevered with the principles of education, persuasion, and rehabilitation for juveniles who commit crimes, and implemented the system of sealing juvenile criminal records in cases below five years of fixed-term imprisonment. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate has set up a procuratorial work office for juveniles. As of November 2016, 24 provincial procuratorates, 192 municipal procuratorates and 1,024 grassroots procuratorates had set up special procuratorial agencies for minors. The state has promoted the development of juvenile courts, and as of June 2017, there were more than 2,200 juvenile courts and over 7,000 juvenile court judges throughout the country. In recent years, the recidivism rate of juvenile offenders has been held at 1-3 percent. The numbers of juvenile criminals and juvenile criminal cases have been declining as a whole.
Improving the state compensation system and judicial aid system. China has promulgated the Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases Regarding Compensation, issued guiding cases on state compensation, improved the procedure of cross-questioning evidence, and standardized compensation for mental suffering. From 2013 to June 2017, courts at all levels heard 20,027 cases involving state compensation. China has strengthened and standardized the work of legal aid, unified the filing of cases, the scope, the procedures and the standards of legal aid, and the supply and the use of funds so as to institutionalize the legal aid system and handle cases qualified for legal aid in a judicial framework. Courts at all levels including the Supreme People’s Court have set up legal aid committees. The total amount of aid provided by the central and local governments was RMB2.47 billion in 2014, RMB2.94 billion in 2015 and RMB2.66 billion in 2016, benefiting more than 268,000 people.
Effectively resolving difficulties in the execution of court rulings. China has established a command system and an online check and control system about the execution of court rulings by all people’s courts. It has improved an integrated punishment system on loss of credit, and issued judicial interpretations and normative documents on online judicial auctions and other issues related to the execution of court rulings, thus significantly improving the quality and efficiency of execution. China has promulgated Opinions on Establishment of a Mechanism of Credit Supervision, Warning and Punishment over People Found to Have Lost Their Credit by the Court, which stipulated 37 measures to punish diehard debtors. It has improved the work mechanism for execution, including advance execution, and effectively alleviated difficulties of the parties involved. The state has carried out special and concentrated actions concerning cases related to people’s daily lives and focused on nine types of such cases, including the recovery of wages due, the wages of migrant workers, and alimony and support payments. In 2016, courts across the country heard a total of 6.1 million applications for execution, of which 5 million were concluded. This was an increase of more than 30 percent over 2015. They involved sums amounting to RMB1.5 trillion, an increase of 50 percent over 2015.
Vigorously promoting judicial openness. The people’s courts have built four major platforms for releasing information on judicial process, trials, written judgments, and the execution of judgments. By October 16, 2017, China Judicial Process Information Online had released 833,000 items of information about the cases and received 2.5 million visits. As of November 3, 2017, courts at all levels had broadcast 404,000 live trials online through Chinacourt.org, attracting more than 3 billion visits. A total of 3,187 courts – 90.43 percent of all courts in China – have access to Chinacourt.org. China Judgments Online was launched in July 2013. As of November 3, 2017, it had released 36 million copies of written judgments and received 11.4 billion visits from more than 210 countries and regions. As of September 30, 2017, China Law Enforcement Information Online had revealed the identities of people who had been subjected to execution of court rulings in a total of 8.61 million civil cases, and more than 45 million pieces of information about these defendants. The people’s procuratorates have established a case information disclosure system and four major platforms for information services concerning trial procedures, the disclosure of legal documents, release of information on major cases, and the application for defense and legal representatives. In addition, full information was made available to the public on criminal cases involving the offering of bribes. Public hearing was adopted in criminal litigation cases. China has released the “Opinions on Further Opening Prison Affairs,” creating new open channels, expanding scope of release of information, and releasing decisions in accordance with the law on commutation of sentences, petitions for parole, and execution of sentences outside prison.
Improving the system of people’s jurors and supervisors. “The Pilot Program to Reform the People’s Jurors System” and the “Program for Furthering Reform of the People’s Supervisors System” have been issued to reform measures on the selection and appointment of people’s jurors and supervisors, expand the scope of cases that involve people’s jurors and supervisors so as to give full play to their role. In 2016, people’s jurors participated in the trial of more than 3 million cases. Pilot projects on reform of the people’s supervisor system have continued. As of June 2017, over 21,000 people’s supervisors had been appointed. Procuratorial organs at all levels have organized the supervision of cases, improved the procedures for supervision and appraisal, set up accounts for abuse-of-power cases, and established conference rooms to be exclusively used for hearing opinions of people’s supervisors. From September 2014 to July 2017, 7,491 cases handled by the procuratorates were supervised and appraised by the people’s supervisors. Of the 247 cases in which people’s supervisors gave opinions at variance with the preliminary decisions of procuratorial organs, 76 cases, or about 31 percent, were ruled in favor of the opinions of the people’s supervisors.
Applying modern science and technology to the legal process. To adapt to the developing internet industry, China has established internet courts. It is promoting the “smart court” in an all-round way, using information network technologies such as big data and cloud computing to standardize the management and statistical analysis of all types of trial information, to standardize criteria for judgment, especially concerning evidence in criminal cases, to promote consistent rulings in similar cases, to prevent and correct miscarriages of justice, and to ensure that all parties involved will obtain a fair trial. China has promoted “internet + litigation service” and launched convenient judicial services such as online filing, online mediation, remote court trial, electronic delivery, and online public disclosure. China has launched www.faxin.cn, a digital network service platform on the application of Chinese law, which aims to provide judges and lawyers with services such as legal document retrieval, professional solutions, and case analysis, to enhance the quality and efficiency of judgments, to make legal standards and judgment rules available to the general public, and to further meet the diverse legal needs of different subjects.
IV. Consolidating Social Mechanisms for Legal Protection of Human Rights
A society under the rule of law serves as a social mechanism for legal protection of human rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has endeavored to raise public awareness of the rule of law and comprehensively govern the country by the rule of law, in order to create a conducive social environment for legal protection of human rights.
Strengthening officials’ awareness of the rule of law and the responsibility for the protection of human rights. All officials elected or appointed by people’s congresses at all levels and by standing committees of people’s congresses at county level or above, and all officials appointed by people’s governments, people’s courts and people’s procuratorates at all levels should, when assuming office, take an oath on the Constitution in public in order to encourage and inspire them to be loyal to, stick to and safeguard the Constitution and enhance the enforcement of the Constitution. The Regulations on the Duties and Responsibilities of Top Leaders of the Party and Government as the Principal Persons Liable for Implementing the Rule of Law has been released. The regulations stipulate that Party secretaries and government heads at or above county level shall be the first to be held accountable in promoting the rule of law, and that fulfillment of such duties is among the key indicators in the official performance evaluation system. “The Opinions on Improving the System of Study and Use of the Law of Staff Members in State Organs” has been released, stipulating that obedience to law and action in accordance with the law serve as important criteria for the performance of officials. A practice of studying the law with Party committees or Party leadership groups has been formed across the country. The rule of law has become an essential component of official appointment and promotion training, as well as a compulsory course in Party schools and official training schools at all levels. Human rights knowledge is a common element of the curriculum. The Information Office of the State Council and national human rights education and training bases have convened multiple training classes on human rights for officials, to disseminate information and increase awareness of the subject.
Popularizing ideas about human rights and the rule of law. December 4 has been celebrated as the National Constitution Day and the education on the Constitution has been popularized to promote the spirit of the Constitution. The sixth and seventh five-year plans for popularization of and education in the law should be carried out to call for popularization and obedience of the law across the country. “The Opinions on Law Publicity Responsibility of State Organs” stipulates that state organs have the primary responsibility for publicity and education on the rule of law. “The Guideline on the Education of the Rule of Law Among Adolescents” has been released to incorporate education on the rule of law in the national education system. It will develop adolescents’ awareness of the rule of law and popularize understanding of the rule of law. It will also build a mindset in favor of abiding by the law, and give people the awareness and enhance the ability to protect their own rights and interests by means of the law, and help them enhance their ability through legal training to participate in national and social life. By 2016 more than 32,000 education centers on the rule of law had been established nationwide and almost all elementary and middle schools had designated vice principals or counselors in charge of education on the rule of law. All these schools have added rights of the person, right to education, and economic rights to their curricula, along with teaching activities designed for students at different stages to enhance their awareness of their rights. With the aim of promoting good faith, for the law, and operations in accordance with the law, enterprises are urged to enhance education on the rule of law and make employees aware of the protection of their rights and interests. Intensive training courses have been organized for migrant workers and the “Rule of Law Publicity Week” has been launched for them. The awareness of the rule of law and the rights of rural residents and migrant workers has been enhanced. Eight national human rights education and training bases have been established in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Guangzhou to expand research on human rights theory, and education and training on human rights.
Enhancing public legal services and mediation for people. “The Opinions on Promoting the Public Legal Services System” has been released to integrate and promote equal access to public legal services. In order to give the public convenient access to legal services to protect their rights and interests, the following measures are pursued:
increase the supply of public legal services;
guarantee availability of lawyers in every county;
establish public legal services halls where lawyers, notarization, judicial authentication and mediation will be available;
promote the system of “designating a legal counselor to every village and community”, and
improve the “12348” free hotline for legal advice.
The key lies in strengthening mediation in industry and the professions, and in solving medical and labor disputes rapidly in accordance with the law. From 2013 to 2016, more than 37 million disputes were mediated, including 5.45 million disputes in industry and the professions. By the end of 2016 there were 784,000 people’s mediation centers with 3.8 million mediators serving communities in both rural and urban areas. From 2013 to 2016, more than 9 million disputes were mediated, and over 97 percent of those disputes were solved. This played a key role in relieving conflict and easing stress at the community level.
Guaranteeing people’s right to self-governance at the community level. China has made constant effort to improve self-governance at the community level, strengthen community consultation in urban and rural areas, and complete the mechanism to help urban and rural residents express their demands, coordinate interests and protect rights and interests. By 2016 about 85 percent of villages had set up villagers’ meetings or meeting of villagers’ representatives. Eighty-nine percent of communities had established congresses of residents. Sixty-four percent of communities had established consultative councils, and consultative forms such as “villager discussion”, “community consultation”, “property owner consultation”, and “villager hearing on decision-making” have steadily taken shape in China. By 2016, 98 percent of rural villages nationwide had formulated villagers’ codes of conduct or villagers’ self-governance regulations, while similar residents’ codes of conduct or residents’ self-governance regulations had been formulated in urban communities. These play an extensive role in social governance.
Giving full play to people’s organizations and social organizations in protecting the legitimate rights and interests of citizens. People’s organizations such as trade unions, communist youth leagues and women’s federations communicate people’s demands through multiple channels and actively offer suggestions on formulating laws against domestic violence and regulations on supervision of labor protection. To protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers, trade unions at all levels scrutinize the enforcement of laws on labor and expose major violations. By the end of 2016 there were nearly 990,000 watchdog organizations in all trade unions with almost 2 million observers. From 2012 to 2016, women’s federations at county level or above handled 1.33 million complaints about violations of women’s rights and interests through multiple channels like the “12338” hotline, and community-level women’s federations worked together with professionals to investigate and resolve disputes and provide legal assistance and care to the woman victims so that their rights and interests are protected. Social organizations of all kinds play a significant role in safeguarding legitimate public rights and interests, expressing legitimate demands and participating in public affairs management. By June 2017 there were 725,000 registered social organizations nationwide, including 344,000 social groups, 375,000 social services organizations, and 5,919 foundations. The strengths of non-governmental philanthropic organizations have played an important role in poverty alleviation, disaster relief, and emergence response. The government is spending more to purchase services from social organizations. In 2017 the central government approved 474 projects totaling RMB182 million plus RMB77 million of supporting funds, directly benefiting over 1 million people and training nearly 7,400 heads of social organizations.
V. Strengthening the CPC Leadership over Legal Protection of Human Rights
China is a large country with a population of more than 1.3 billion. The CPC is a large party with more than 89 million members. It plays a leading role in the political life of China. CPC leadership provides the fundamental guarantee for the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics and is also the strongest means in China’s fight to ensure legal protection of human rights. Since the 18th National Congress, the CPC has continuously strengthened and improved its leadership in building the rule of law by following the principle of “respecting and safeguarding human rights.” It has worked hard in promoting law-based governance of the country, rule-based governance of the Party and intra-Party institution building, providing a strong political base for guaranteeing legal protection of human rights in China in all key areas.
Respect for and protection of human rights has been incorporated in the basic strategy of the rule of law. At the 18th National Congress, the CPC decided to “step up efforts to build a socialist country based on the rule of law” and made it clear that achieving the goal that “human rights are fully respected and protected” was an important part of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. At the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, the CPC decided to “promote the rule of law in the country” and emphasized the need to “improve the judicial system to protect human rights”. At the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, the CPC adopted the “Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Major Issues Concerning Advancing the All-round Law-based Governance”. This resolution put forward 190 measures in the areas of sound lawmaking, strict law enforcement, impartial administration of justice, and common observance of the law. It also provides for:
building a capable workforce dedicated to developing the rule of law;
strengthening and improving the Party’s leadership over efforts to advance the all-round law-based governance of the country;
creating an overall plan for developing a system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics;
building a country of socialist rule of law, and
completing specific tasks to provide “stronger judicial protection of human rights.”
As stated by the central leadership at the 19th CPC National Congress, to ensure that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedoms as prescribed by law we must:
exercise Party leadership at every point in the process and over every dimension of law-based governance;
combine law-based governance of the country and rule-based governance of the Party;
set up a central leading group for advancing law-based governance in all areas to exercise unified leadership over the task of building the rule of law in China;
uphold the unity, sanctity, and authority of China’s legal system, and strengthen legal protection of human rights, and
ensure that people enjoy legitimate rights and freedoms.
Law-based governance of the country and rule-based governance of the Party have both been upheld. Rule of law is fundamental to the governance of a country. The CPC has:
upheld the basic strategy of rule of law with the basic practice of law-based governance;
exercised overall leadership;
coordinated all efforts so as to ensure that people’s congresses, governments, committees of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, courts, and procuratorates all perform their duties and carry out their work in accordance with the law and their charters;
worked to ensure that it leads the people in enacting and enforcing the Constitution and the laws, and
operated within the confines of the Constitution and the law itself.
The CPC issued the “Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Strengthening the Party Leadership over Legislation”, requiring that drafting of laws and regulations on politics and other major areas of the economy and society must be deliberated by the CPC Central Committee, or the Party committee or Party leadership group at the same level. Reflecting the need to better define its leadership over legislation and make it more institutional, procedure-based and democratic, the CPC also emphasized the significance and importance of following principles of democratic decision-making and collective leadership, and deciding major legislative issues through collective deliberation. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has organized group study sessions on the rule of law. It requires that Party officials must take the lead in respecting, studying, observing, and applying the law. In addition, Party committees at all levels must ensure training in the rule of law, improve the system for studying the law, and promote awareness of the law among officials. Officials at all levels should develop their ability to think and act based on law, work to reach consensus on reform, promote procedure-based development, resolve conflict, and safeguard social harmony in accordance with the law. Since the 18th National Congress, the CPC has made or revised some key regulations of iconic significance, including the “Guiding Principles for Political Activities Within the Party in the New Era” and the “Regulations of the Communist Party of China on Internal Scrutiny”, gradually forming a system that consists of the Party Constitution, guiding principles, regulations, measures, and implementing rules. The CPC has also reviewed and reorganized its internal regulations and normative documents dating from the founding of the PRC in October 1949 to June 2012. Among 1,178 such regulations and documents, 369 were declared invalid, 322 were abolished, and 487 are still in effect.
The court and the procuratorate must exercise their power independently and impartially in accordance with the law. “The Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Major Issues Concerning Advancing the All-round Law-based Governance” states that we should improve the system for ensuring the law-based, independent, and impartial exercise of judicial and procuratorial powers, and that Party and government agencies and officials at all levels should support courts and procuratorates in exercising their powers independently and impartially in accordance with the law. The CPC issued the “Regulations on Recording, Circular of Criticism and Accountability of Intervening in Judicial Activities and in Handling of Specific Cases by Officials” which stipulates that all such interventions must be recorded, officials accused of interventions must be criticized in the form of circular, and officials whose interventions have had consequences should be held accountable. In so doing, the CPC has ensured that the courts and procuratorates exercise their power independently and impartially in accordance with the law.
Scrutiny and checks on the exercise of power have been strengthened. Since the 18th National Congress, the CPC has continued to develop its institutions, strengthening scrutiny and checks on the exercise of power, granting powers of scrutiny to the public, and providing an institutional framework to manage power, personnel and activities. At the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, the CPC adopted the “Regulations for Political Activities Within the Party in the New Era.” It states that mechanisms for controlling the exercise of power must be improved, so as to establish institutions which ensure that power comes with responsibility, that the use of power comes with accountability, and that those who abuse power are held to account. It stipulates that powers must be delineated, that the process and results of the exercise of power must be made public, that accountability mechanisms for inappropriate use of power must be reinforced, and that scrutiny over officials must be strengthened. To ensure that the power granted by the people will always be exercised in their interests, it requires that Party organizations and officials at every level must act within the scope of the Constitution and other laws, that they must act within the line of authority, rules and procedures prescribed by law, and must not treat their own word as law, place their own authority above the law, break the law in pursuit of personal interests, or bend the law for favoritism. “The Regulations of the Communist Party of China on Internal Scrutiny” expressly stipulate that internal scrutiny is primarily targeted at the leading organs and officials of the Party, particularly top leaders. The document also states that a sound system of internal scrutiny under the unified leadership of the Central Committee should be established, comprising overall supervision by Party committees or Party leadership groups, specialized supervision by commissions for discipline inspection, functional supervision by Party organs, routine supervision by primary-level Party organizations, and democratic scrutiny by Party members. As stated in the report to the 19th CPC National Congress, we will improve the supervision systems applying to the Party and the state, further reform the national supervision system, and conduct nationwide trials. We will establish supervisory commissions at national, provincial, prefectural, and county levels, ensuring that supervision covers all public servants who exercise public power. We will formulate the National Supervision Law, which will define duties and powers of these supervisory commissions, and their means of investigation. The practice of shuanggui [ A form of intra-Party disciplinary action of the CPC that requires a Party member under investigation to cooperate with questioning at a designated place and a designated time.] will be replaced by detention.
We have fought resolutely against corruption in order to guarantee people’s interests. The CPC has shown zero tolerance in the fight against corruption. It has revised codes about clean conduct, and regulations on disciplinary punishment, accountability, intra-Party scrutiny, and inspection tours, creating a framework for systematically preventing and combating corruption. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has investigated more than 440 Party-member officials at or above the provincial level and other officials registered at and supervised by the CPC Central Committee. Commissions for discipline inspection and departments of supervision around the country have dealt with 1,537,000 people, including 8,900 at bureau level and 63,000 at county level, and 58,000 cases of suspected criminal activity have been transferred to the judiciary. This strong enforcement has acted as a powerful deterrent. In 2016, 57,000 Party-member officials took the initiative to confess their violations of Party discipline. From the beginning of 2014 to August 2017, more than 6,100 Party committees or Party leadership groups, general branches and branches, more than 300 discipline inspection commissions or teams, and more than 60,000 Party-member officials were held accountable throughout the country. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has organized 12 rounds of inspection tours, including inspection of Party organizations in 277 local governments, departments and entities, “return inspections” of 16 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, and “flexible inspections” of four entities. For the first time in its history, the CPC achieved full coverage of central inspection tours during a single term of office of central leadership. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection set up 47 dispatched resident teams, covering all the 139 central-level departments of the Party and the government. According to a 2016 survey of the National Bureau of Statistics, the CPC effort to improve Party conduct, uphold integrity, and combat corruption saw the index of public satisfaction with this initiative rise from 81 percent in 2013 to 92.9 percent in 2016.
VI. Actively Promoting the Development of Global Human Rights Under the Rule of Law
China has always safeguarded world peace and contributed to global development, and upholds the international order. The Chinese government advocates building a community of shared future for humanity. China actively participates in building a legal system of international human rights, earnestly fulfills international human rights obligations, conducts in-depth international exchanges and cooperation in judicial field, and champions the healthy development of global human rights.
Building a community of shared future for humanity. In March 2013 Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the idea of “a community of shared future” for the first time in a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. In September 2015, at the summits commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, he expanded this vision. In January 2017, he attended a high-level meeting on “discussing and building a community of shared future for humanity” at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and delivered a keynote speech, entitled “Work Together to Build a Community of Shared Future for Humanity”. In his speech, Xi elaborated on the concept of a community of shared future for humanity in a profound, comprehensive and systematic way and called on the peoples of all countries to work together to push forward the great process. Xi advocates an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity through dialogue and consultation, joint efforts, win-win cooperation, and exchanges and mutual learning, and by pursuing green and low-carbon development. President Xi Jinping’s speech indicates the fundamental means of addressing current global challenges, and has important implications in improving international human rights governance. The concept of “building a community of shared future for humanity” has been written into relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, signifying that it has become an important part of international human rights discourse. It broadens the perspective of international human rights protection and plays an important role in advancing global human rights governance in an equitable and rational way.
Actively participating in the making of international rules related to the protection of human rights. As a founding member of the United Nations, China has been involved in creating the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, making an important contribution to the development of international human rights rules. It has participated in formulating the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. China has played a constructive role in international climate change negotiations with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the main channel, and made every effort to ensure that the Paris Agreement on climate change is concluded and comes into force. China has created the Belt and Road Initiative, and pressed forward with establishing international cooperation rules concerning the economy, environmental protection, healthcare, adolescents, the protection and development of children, cyberspace governance, anti-corruption and drug control.
Sincerely fulfilling its obligations to the international human rights conventions. China has acceded to 26 international human rights conventions including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It has also actively created conditions for the approval of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. China cherishes the important role played by international human rights instruments in promoting and protecting human rights, and sincerely fulfills its obligations to the international human rights conventions. It submits timely reports on implementing the conventions to the treaty bodies concerned, holds constructive dialogues with these bodies, takes into full consideration the proposals they raise, and adopts rational and feasible measures in the light of China’s actual conditions. In 2012 China’s first report on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was approved. In 2013 China’s third and fourth combined report on implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child and China’s first report on implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict was approved. In 2014 China underwent the second-round Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held by the UN Human Rights Council, which approved the UPR report on China. China’s second report on implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was approved. China submitted its combined seventh and eighth periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women for review. In 2015 China submitted its sixth report on implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to the UN Committee Against Torture for review. China actively participates in international peacekeeping operations. From 1990 to August 2017, 36,000 Chinese military peacekeeping personnel were sent abroad to take part in 24 UN peacekeeping operations. In 2017 China built a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops.
Effectively conducting international cooperation on legal matters. China has acceded to the Hague Service Convention (also known as the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters), the Hague Evidence Convention (also known as the Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters), and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. By 2016 China had signed judicial assistance treaties or agreements on civil, commercial, and criminal cases with 19 countries, all of which had come into force. It had signed judicial assistance treaties or agreements on criminal cases with 40 countries, 32 of which had come into force, and it had signed judicial assistance treaties or agreements on civil and commercial cases with 20 countries, 17 of which had come into force. Between 2013 and 2016, China’s central organs handled more than 3,300 requests for judicial assistance every year. China has strengthened international cooperation against corruption, and promoted the adoption of the “G20 High Level Principles on Cooperation on Persons Sought for Corruption and Asset Recovery” and the “2017-2018 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan”. Ten principles on persons sought for corruption and asset recovery have been established, the main provisions of which are “zero tolerance against corruption, zero loopholes in our institutions and zero barriers in our actions”. China carries out “Sky Net” operation and intensifies efforts to pursue, repatriate and extradite fugitives accused of corruption. From 2014 to mid-October 2017, 3,453 fugitives were brought back from more than 90 countries and regions, including 48 on the list of 100 most wanted fugitives, and illegal assets worth RMB9.5 billion were recovered.
Taking an active part in international law-enforcement and security cooperation. China works with the international community to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism and drug-related crimes. Within the framework of international and regional organizations including the UN, Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization), SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), China works to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation with other countries in order to combat all forces of terrorism. China has enhanced counter-terrorism exchanges and cooperation with other countries through high-level contacts, institutional consultation, and cooperation agreements, and intensified the fight against the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism and separatism. China is actively involved in creating international instruments to address the world drug problem, and fights alongside neighboring countries against drug trafficking and smuggling. It continues the Safe Mekong Joint Operation within the law-enforcement and security cooperation mechanism along the China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand sections of the Mekong River. In the Second Safe Mekong Joint Operation by China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, organized by China in 2016, 6,476 drug-related cases were solved, 9,927 suspects were arrested, and 12.7 tons of narcotics and 55.2 tons of precursor chemicals were seized.
China’s efforts to comprehensively advance law-based governance has enabled it to take major steps in building a law-based socialist country and lift legal protection of human rights to a new level. Never before have Chinese people enjoyed such full economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights as today. The cause of human rights in China is making consistent progress in the right direction.
The basic and practical context is that China is still and will remain for the foreseeable future in the primary stage of socialism. There is still much work to be done and a long way to go to advance law-based governance in all fields, build a country of socialist rule of law, construct a law-based government and a law-governed society, modernize China’s system and capacity for governance, and realize higher levels of legal protection of human rights.
The 19th CPC National Congress defined major plans for advancing law-based governance. Now, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core, Chinese people are working hard to realize the Two Centenary Goals [ The Two Centenary Goals were put forth by the CPC at its 18th National Congress for building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The two goals are to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC (founded in 1921) and to build China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the centenary of the PRC (founded in 1949).] and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. In the cause of realizing the great dream, we will certainly make further solid progress in building a law-based socialist country. We will promote legal protection of human rights and make a new and greater contribution to the development of human civilization.