President Xi Jinping met via video link with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on 25 May in Beijing.
President Xi welcomed Bachelet to China. He expounded on major issues regarding China’s human rights development in the context of China’s history and culture, and reaffirmed the principled position of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government in upholding and protecting human rights in all areas. He stressed that, on day one of its existence, the CPC identified as its founding mission the pursuit of happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation, and has been working hard for the people’s interests over the past century. The people’s aspiration for a better life is what we are striving for. After decades of strenuous efforts, China has successfully found a path of human rights development in keeping with the trend of the times and China’s national reality. We have been advancing whole-process people’s democracy, promoting legal safeguard for human rights and upholding social equity and justice. The Chinese people now enjoy fuller and more extensive and comprehensive democratic rights. The human rights of the Chinese people are guaranteed like never before.
President Xi pointed out that in terms of human rights protection, no one can claim perfection and there is always room for improvement. On the basis of equality and mutual respect, China is ready to actively conduct human rights dialogue and cooperation with all other parties to expand common understanding, reduce differences, promote mutual learning, seek progress together, and jointly advance the international human rights cause for the greater benefit of people across the world. At present, it is most important to work on the following four priorities:
First, putting people front and center. It is important to take the people’s interests as the fundamental purpose and goal, make continuous efforts to address the most pressing and immediate issues that concern the people the most, and strive to deliver a better life to the people. That is the biggest human right. How a country is doing on human rights is essentially gauged by whether the interests of its people are upheld, and whether they enjoy a growing sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. That is the most important criterion for assessing the human rights conditions of a country. The people should become the true masters of their countries and the main participants, contributors and beneficiaries of human rights development.
Second, respecting different countries’ paths of human rights development. Human rights have historical, specific and practical contexts. With different national conditions, histories, cultures, social systems and levels of economic and social development, countries should and can only explore suitable paths of human rights development in light of national realities and people’s needs. Any system or model blindly copied from another country regardless of the situation on the ground will not only look out of place, but also bring disastrous consequences. Should that happen, it is the people who will bear the brunt. There is no shortage of such examples, and lessons must be learned.
Third, following a holistic approach to all categories of human rights. Human rights are a rich and all-encompassing concept, and must be advanced with integrated and systematic measures. For developing countries, the rights to subsistence and development are the primary human rights. More efforts are needed to achieve development of higher quality, efficiency, equity, sustainability and security, so as to provide strong safeguards for the advancement of human rights.
Fourth, stepping up global human rights governance. The promotion and protection of human rights is a common cause for humanity and thus requires the concerted efforts of all. When it comes to human rights issues, there is no such thing as a flawless utopia; countries do not need patronizing lecturers; still less should human rights issues be politicized and used as a tool to apply double standards, or as a pretext to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. It is important to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, advocate humanity’s common values, and steer global human rights governance toward greater fairness, justice, equity and inclusiveness. China will continue to support the UN in making positive efforts for the international human rights cause.
Ms. Bachelet expressed appreciation to China for receiving her visit despite the COVID challenge, the first visit to China by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 17 years. She very much values and cherishes this visit and will have extensive engagements and direct communication with the Chinese government and people across different sectors. The High Commissioner is confident that this visit will give her a better understanding of China. She expressed admiration for China’s efforts and achievements in eliminating poverty, protecting human rights and realizing economic and social development, and commended China’s important role in upholding multilateralism, confronting global challenges such as climate change, and promoting sustainable development across the world. The High Commissioner’s Office would like to enhance communication and explore cooperation with the Chinese side to make joint efforts for the progress of the global human rights cause.
Ding Xuexiang, Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi (in Guangzhou) were present at the meeting.