China on Track to Meet Human Rights Plan Goals

China has been working effectively toward goals set by the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015), with most quantitative targets at least half fulfilled in the past two years, a senior official said on Tuesday.

"China has made considerable progress in human rights protection," said Cai Mingzhao, director of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) at an interim review meeting on the action plan.

Last year, disposable income of urban residents grew 7 percent while per capita net income of rural residents rose 9.3 percent, and the poor rural population fell by 16.5 million compared to 2012, according to Cai.

In 2013, the ratio of elected deputies to represented population in the National People's Congress, the national legislature, was the same for rural and urban areas for the first time ever.

Grass-roots self-governance improved, as over 98 percent of village level party committees are now directly elected, Cai said, citing another example of greater democratic rights.

Meanwhile, the interests and rights of ethnic minorities, women, children, the elderly and disabled have been better protected, and international exchanges and cooperation in the field of human rights have also progressed.

For instance, Cai said, 280,000 poverty-stricken households with disabled members had seen their homes installed with facilities for their convenience, and more than 15 million physically impaired had received rehabilitation therapy.

Also, the central government channelled 46.4 billion yuan (7.58 billion U.S. dollars) to ethnic minority regions in 2013, an increase of 10.5 percent year on year.

Nevertheless, Cai warned, a sober mind was still needed when implementing the action plan.

China is still a developing country, both socially and economically, and it has considerable development gaps among regions and across urban and rural areas, therefore, unbalanced and unsustainable development patterns still exist, which hamper efforts to advance human rights, Cai said.

In addition, as China's reform efforts sail into an unchartered territory, emergencies that threaten public health or security will occur, and social problems that endanger public interests still exist, Cai said, adding that there were still huge challenges ahead to achieve all the targets within the timetable.

The Chinese government publicized the National Human Rights Action Plan (2012-2015) in June 2012, promising to address challenges and work for the happiness and dignity of every citizen.

The plan is China's second national plan for human rights protection and serves as a policy document for advancing human rights.

All targets and tasks set by the previous action plan, which covered the 2009-2010 period, were fulfilled as scheduled.

Source: Xinhua