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Statement by H.E. Ambassador SHA Zukang at the 60th Session of the Commission on Human Rights under Item 9 (Geneva, March 25, 2004)
2004/04/16
Mr. Chairman,

It is the common task of all countries to promote and protect human rights and the purpose of the item on country situations in the HR Commission is to discuss the issue of "violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world" in order to draw upon each other's lessons and search for the best way to promote and protect such rights. Regrettably, however, this item has been seriously distorted to this very day. Certain western countries, out of self-interest, have used the item to humiliate the developing countries and trample upon their sovereignty. Acrimonious attacks, arrogance and prejudice abound in the Commission. The developing countries have for years expressed their strong dissatisfaction with such a situation.

No human rights situation is perfect in any country of the world. Otherwise, human progress would cease to advance. Problems of one kind or another exist in every country and the only difference is the way in which and the degree to which these problems manifest themselves. Western countries are by no means models for human rights protection and the developing countries are certainly NOT synonymous with human rights violations. Under this item, we discuss "human rights violations in any part of the world", not simply "human rights violations in developing countries". The HR Commission has not mandated any country to serve as the human rights judge and the developing countries should not be kept in the dock forever in the human rights court. There is an ancient saying in China to the effect that a person should correct himself first before trying to correct others. We hope that certain countries take a hard look at themselves in the mirror before pointing fingers at others.

Countries have the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights and they are both duty-bound and entitled to decide on the path of human rights development in the light of their country situations. Different opinions on human rights are inevitable among countries given their different situations. China has always advocated the appropriate settlement of the differences on the basis of equality and mutual respect and through dialogue and cooperation. It is to be regretted that certain countries stubbornly cling to the cold-war mentality, wantonly single out developing countries for criticism and even table country resolutions. Worse still, matters that seem to have nothing to do with the Commission, such as domestic elections, have become the driving force behind country resolutions. The submission of anti-China draft resolution by the US after a lull of two years has been entirely prompted by the need of general elections and has nothing to do with China's human rights. Such attempts at the "privatization" of the Commission at once blemishes the sacred mission of the Commission and exacerbates the confrontations in the Commission.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Government attaches importance to the enhanced enjoyment of human rights by the Chinese people. Upon taking office, the new generation of collective leadership proposed the governance concept that people's needs are cardinal and that government is but for the people with emphasis on the use of power to serve the people, every concern for the people and promotion of the interests of the people. Stress is also placed on the solution of problems related to farmers, rural areas and agriculture. China has achieved widely acclaimed progress in human rights field during the past year. In spite of SARS and severe flooding and drought, Chinese economy grew by 9.1% and China has lifted 1.07 million people out of poverty. Life expectancy has reached 71.8 years, 5 years higher than the world's average, similar to that in New York. This fact alone is enough to prove that the Americans do not live in heaven and life in China is not a hell. In the meantime, China has continued its progress in strengthening democracy and the rule of law. The Chinese government has abolished the Measures concerning the Collection and Sending Home of the Vagrants and Beggars in Cities and put in place the Regulations on Legal Aid. In March this year, the National People Congress incorporated in an unambiguous manner the provision on "The State respects and protects human rights" into the Constitution, representing a major breakthrough in China's human rights development. No one can obliterate China's human rights achievements and no one can block China's stride forward. It is not out of ignorance or true concern for China's human rights but because of ulterior motives that certain country has censured China for what it called "backsliding" in human rights situation.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation strongly appeals to the Human Rights Commission to advance in tandem with the trend of times and to comply with the demand of most countries. Full use should be made of the significance of the 60th session in profoundly reflecting upon the current state of affairs in the Commission. Acrimony and abuse must be abandoned and the original purpose of the Commission's founders be restored so that the Commission will become a forum for learning from each other and truly play its effective role in promoting and protecting human rights.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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