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Development key to protecting human rights

By Luo Zhaohui | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-07 06:49

The Great Hall of People in Beijing. [Photo/CFP]

United Nations data show that more than 800 million people around the world are suffering from hunger and over 350 million need humanitarian aid. And since more than 150 of the 193 members of the UN are developing countries, accounting for 85 percent of the global population, the rights to subsistence and development are of paramount importance to them. In fact, the rights to subsistence and development are the most basic of human rights.

Despite being a developing country, China achieved its goal of eradicating absolute poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by the end of 2020, as well as maintaining its position as the world's second-largest economy.

China reshapes global development

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, China has been adhering to "whole-process people's democracy", pursuing high-quality development and opening-up, promoting common prosperity, and working to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through Chinese modernization. These policies and measures have helped China to ensure its 1.4 billion people enjoy the rights to subsistence and development.

China has led and reshaped global development during the past decade, and contributed the most to global human rights governance in the most active and effective way — that is, by eradicating poverty and providing for its people, and helping other developing countries to do the same.

Besides, Beijing played a leading role in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by launching the largest and longest emergency humanitarian operation since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. While it supplied massive amounts of medicines and medical equipment to 151 countries and 13 international organizations, and dispatched medical teams to 34 countries, it also provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for about 110 countries and four international organizations.

Having enough food to eat is essential to survival, and China has long been offering food aid to other countries to ensure the people in those countries are not deprived of the basic human right. For example, in recent times it has provided emergency food aid for more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda. It has also helped other countries establish agricultural demonstration centers, provided many nations with hybrid rice technology and trained innumerable agricultural talents to ensure they have enough food to feed their people.

China has been contributing to global poverty alleviation also by introducing more than 6,000 livelihood projects covering fields such as healthcare, education and culture, water supply and capacity building.

While it provides emergency humanitarian aid to countries in need, it has always lent a helping hand to developing countries that are hit by disasters. For example, it offered relief materials to Pakistan to help its recovery after the devastating floods and to Turkiye to help it overcome the destructive effects of an earthquake. As a matter of fact, over the past decade, China has carried out nearly 400 emergency humanitarian relief missions, dispatched more than 1,100 medical teams and over 30,000 medical workers to 76 countries and regions in Asia, Africa and Latin America, providing treatment for about 290 million people. Besides the discovery of artemisinin by Medicine Nobel laureate Tu Youyou has played a key role in fighting malaria, benefiting the whole world.

BRI contributes to global development

Since China believes the right to development is one of the most basic human rights, it has been helping other developing countries to boost the natural growth by providing them with whole-set projects, technical assistance, emergency humanitarian aid, and helping train over 400,000 talents in those countries. In fact, the number of recipient countries has increased from about 110 to more than 160.

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, too, has benefited many countries. With more than 140 countries and 30 international organizations signing Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, the initiative has yielded fruitful results, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the China-Laos Railway, the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway and the first expressway in East Africa.

Also, the Global Development Initiative, which is in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, reaffirms that China is committed to promoting and protecting human rights and facilitating common development. Not for nothing have more than 100 countries and international organizations supported the Global Development Initiative.

Last year, China upgraded the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund to the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, adding another $1 billion to the fund on top of the already committed $3 billion. It has also increased input to the UN Peace Development Trust fund. Such efforts will further promote cooperation under the Global Development Initiative.

In addition, the China International Development Cooperation Agency has established the Global Development Promotion Center and will host the first high-level meeting of the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development from July 9-10.

The Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, in both its avatars, has worked with more than 10 international organizations, including the UN, in fields such as public health, climate change and environmental protection, and carried out over 130 projects in more than 50 countries, while the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development has helped train more than 370 officials with master's or doctoral degrees from 72 countries.

More important, China never pressures countries to repay their debt. No country has fallen into a debt trap after joining the Belt and Road Initiative. And China has actively responded to the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and makes the largest contribution (nearly 30 percent) to the total debt service suspension initiative.

Time to put development back on global agenda

The world today faces many problems including growing geopolitical conflicts, intensifying major power competition, slowing down of North-South cooperation and expanding development gap. Not to mention the drifting away of the development agenda. The development of human rights, too, faces challenges including increasing peace, development and human rights deficits. Therefore, it is necessary to safeguard the rights to subsistence and development.

To begin with, efforts should be made to address the challenges of insecurity to development, because there cannot be peace without development, there cannot be development without peace, and there cannot be peace and development without human rights. China needs to implement the Global Security Initiative, uphold the UN's central role in global security governance, and advocate the indivisibility between individual security and common security, between traditional security and non-traditional security and between security and development. It also needs to promote consultation and dialogue for the peaceful settlement of global hotspot issues in order to create a healthy environment for sustainable development.

Second, the world should put the issue of development back into the center of the global agenda. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects a broad consensus of countries, while safeguarding basic human rights is an important part of the agenda. There is also a need to seek synergy among the Global Development Initiative, the UN's 2030 Agenda and individual country's development strategy.

Third, different countries have different histories, cultures, national conditions and needs, so there cannot be one-size-fits-all model for protecting human rights. As such, the right of every country to independently choose its own path for developing human rights should be respected.

And fourth, since the process of Chinese modernization is also a process of advancing human rights, China should invest more in resources to promote global development, because that promotes global cooperation, and can help narrow the gap between the Global North and Global South and boost the development of developing countries.

To be sure, China will follow the human rights development path that best suits its national conditions, participate in global human rights governance, promote the all-round development of global human rights and help build a community with a shared future for mankind.

The author is chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency. Here is an excerpt of his speech at the Forum on Global Human Rights Governance held in Beijing on June 14.

The views don't reflect those of China Daily.

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