China Sunday released a white paper on human rights, highlighting
the role of Internet freedom and the country’s efforts in
safeguarding its citizens’ legitimate civil and political rights.
“The overall cause of human rights has been promoted in an
all-round way,” says the white paper, published by the State
Council Information Office under the title “Progress in China’s
Human Rights in 2009″.
Chinese netizens’ right to freedom of speech was protected and the
Internet has become a new channel for the Chinese government to
gauge public opinion, and consequently improve its governance,
Xinhua quoted the report as saying.
It has become “common practice” for governments at all levels to
consult the public via the Internet before formulating some
policies, the white paper says.
It adds that government agencies have set up special websites to
facilitate the public’s reporting of corruption and dereliction of
duty by officials.
Chang Jian, vice director of human rights research centre of
Tianjin-based Nankai University, said the government agencies have
made marked progress in promoting transparency in public
“Previously, few government agencies were aware of the necessity
to release pubic information, prompting the public to sue relevant
government agencies, while today it has become a common practice
of many government bodies to publicise information,” said Chang.
In 2009, the Chinese government promulgated and implemented its
first national action plan with human rights as the theme.
The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), which
applies the constitutional principle of respecting and protecting
human rights to the various fields of politics, economy, culture,
social construction, among others, has been “effectively
implemented”, according to the white paper.
Chang said, the action plan, compiled by people from the
government, academia and non-government organisations, will be a
road map in implementing the constitutional principle of
respecting and protecting human rights.
China had further protected citizens’ civil and political rights
by strengthening democracy and the rule of law, according to the
In 2009, China took a further step in improving its judicial
system to strengthen the protection of human rights in law
enforcement and judicial practices, the white paper says.
China has also issued its first systematic departmental ordinance
regarding punishment of breach of discipline by the public
security organs and police forces. The ordinance, which became
effective June 1, clearly defined disciplinary measures for
physical punishment or abuse of suspects and people in custody,
Judicial transparency in China has also increased, the paper says.
The ethnic minorities’ rights to study, use and develop their own
languages are protected. The state effectively guarantees the use
of ethnic-minority languages in administrative and judicial work,
news media and publications, broadcasting and film, culture and
education, and other areas, it says.
On international exchanges, the document says China has joined 25
international conventions on human rights, including the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
In 2009, China held human rights dialogues and consultations with
the European Union, Britain, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway
and communicated with countries such as Russia and Laos.
“Through dialogue and communication with other countries, mutual
understanding concerning human rights has been enhanced, gaps have
been narrowed and consensuses have been reached,” the white paper
The white paper is China’s 9th report on human rights since the
country began releasing the document in 1991.