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Protecting rights to life and health to safeguard human rights

By Liu Huawen | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-30 07:15


Ever since the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, China has been making public information on the epidemic situation. It also completed the genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus and shared the details with the World Health Organization as well as the international community, facilitating the research to find a cure or develop a vaccine for the virus.

The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have always attached great importance to people's rights to life and health, which are fundamental human rights and recognized and guaranteed by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Chinese government has been providing free treatment for confirmed COVID-19 patients in order to contain the outbreak, and has reduced or exempted the medical expenses for people affected by the outbreak. For China, treating everyone equally is the best way to protect human rights in the fight against the epidemic. Also, the government has made sure the vulnerable and special groups such as women, children, the elderly, the disabled, the poor, even detainees, get proper attention despite the imposition of the prevention and control measures.

As for foreigners living in China, they too are treated equally. For example, Guangdong and other places have opened a multilingual 24-hour hotline service and foreign nationals infected by the virus have received timely treatment. China has not increased or reduced anti-virus measures for someone just because they are foreign nationals.

The epidemic is a threat to not only the safety and well-being of individuals but also the rights to life and health of families and communities. And since human rights are highly integrated, once the rights to life and health are threatened, a series of other rights and freedoms, including the right to work and the right to education, will be directly affected.

By taking the measures to contain the outbreak, China has demonstrated its strong and efficient national governance and crisis-response capabilities, and its people have united as one to further the cause.

That more than 40,000 health workers from across the country went to Hubei to help contain the outbreak shows how committed the Chinese people are to helping each other. A large number of grass-roots civil servants, community workers and volunteers, too, worked tirelessly to prevent the spread of the virus. And the People's Liberation Army, as always, has played a critical role in protecting people's lives, health and safety.

Moreover, China's call for international cooperation to contain the pandemic shows it is fulfilling its international commitment as a responsible major country.

At the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on March 26, President Xi Jinping said that, to win the battle against the pandemic, the international community needs firm confidence, concerted efforts and a united response, emphasizing that China is ready to provide assistance within its capacity for other countries and contribute to the world economy while adhering to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.

China has been sharing its experience of fighting the outbreak with other countries. It has set up an online knowledge center on epidemic prevention and control, which is open to all countries. The Chinese government and private sector have dispatched or are dispatching medical supplies to a large number of countries and international organizations. China has also used its production capacity to advantage and further opened up its market and export channels for medical supplies.

China's governance system and social mechanism to prevent and control the spread of epidemics have developed rapidly in recent years, but they still need improvements. As a socialist country, China enjoys unique institutional advantages when it comes to social mobilization, research and development, and response to major epidemics and other emergencies. For instance, unlike other countries, government departments and agencies in China don't pass the buck or indulge in bickering; instead, they simply do their job. This helps China to cope with crises, risks and challenges, as well as lay a solid foundation for the protection of human rights.

The author is executive director of the human rights research center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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