Editor's Note: The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Thursday issued a white paper titled Moderate Prosperity in All Respects: Another Milestone Achieved in China's Human Rights. Full text follows:
I. Achieving Moderate Prosperity and Advancing Human Rights
II. Ending Extreme Poverty and Securing the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
III. Boosting Human Rights with Development and Securing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
IV. Protecting Civil and Political Rights with Law and Governance
V. Promoting Social Equity and Protecting the Rights of Special Groups
Human rights are an achievement of humanity and a symbol of progress. Respect for and protection of human rights is a basic principle of modern civilization, and the unwavering goal of the Chinese Communists. The Communist Party of China (CPC) seeks happiness for the people. Its 100-year history records its efforts in fighting for, respecting, protecting, and developing human rights. Owing to its efforts, human rights in China have greatly improved, adding diversity to human civilization.
Building China into a moderately prosperous society in all respects is a major strategy designed by the Party and the government to improve the wellbeing of the people, better protect human rights, and achieve modernization of the country. On July 1, 2021, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and president of China, solemnly declared in Beijing on behalf of the Party and the people that we had realized the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This means we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of extreme poverty in China, and we are now marching with confidence towards the goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. It is an exciting moment for human rights in China, a moment that will go down in history, and a moment from which we will forge ahead into the future.
The realization of all-round moderate prosperity shows that the CPC has stayed true to its original aspiration and founding mission. Under the CPC leadership, the Chinese people worked hard in the final stage towards this goal, and finally completed the historic transformation from poverty to secure access to food and clothing, to a decent life, and finally to moderate prosperity.
Moderate prosperity in China is evident in all respects: a buoyant economy, political democracy, a flourishing culture, social equity, and healthy ecosystems; balanced development between urban and rural areas to the benefit of all the people; and high respect for and comprehensive protection of human rights. China's realization of moderate prosperity serves as a solid foundation for human rights, and takes a deeper and broader perspective on this cause. It represents comprehensive progress in ensuring universal human rights in China, and a new contribution to the world's human rights cause.
I. Achieving Moderate Prosperity and Advancing Human Rights
Xiaokang, an ancient term in China, refers to a status of moderate prosperity whereby people are neither rich nor poor but free from want and toil. It has been the people's wish since ancient times to live a life of peace, stability and happiness. In the early period of reform and opening up, based on its own national conditions, China articulated the goal of building a moderately prosperous society, which demonstrated its concern for improving the people's wellbeing, and its commitment to protecting and promoting human rights. The realization of all-round moderate prosperity ushers in a new era for the protection of human rights in all respects.
1. The Journey to Moderate Prosperity
Building a moderately prosperous society has been a grand strategy since the 1980s, designed to realize national prosperity and rejuvenation, and ensure the people's wellbeing in China under the leadership of the CPC. Based on its analysis and judgment of China's realities at that time, the CPC decided to focus on economic development to drive social progress on all fronts. Since then, the CPC and the Chinese government have made it a key goal to build a moderately prosperous society by stages.
In December 1979, Deng Xiaoping presented the vision of building a xiaokang society. The reference to xiaokang grounded the goal of China's modernization firmly in traditional Chinese culture. The report to the 12th CPC National Congress in 1982 defined the goal to quadruple the annual gross output value of industry and agriculture and secure the people's basic needs in two decades from 1981 to the end of the 20th century. The report to the 14th CPC National Congress in 1992 stated that the country had ensured the basic needs of 1.1 billion Chinese people and was moving on towards xiaokang.
The report to the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002 declared that on the whole the people had made a historic leap from having only adequate food and clothing to leading a life of moderate prosperity, and set forth the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects: In the first two decades of the 21st century, China would build a society of moderate prosperity of a higher standard in an all-round way to the benefit of over one billion people; China would further develop the economy, improve democracy, advance science and education, promote cultural prosperity, foster social harmony, and upgrade the quality of life for the people.
The report to the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 laid out the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. According to this report, China's economy would maintain sustained and sound development, people's democracy would be expanded, and human rights would be fully respected and protected. The country's cultural soft power would be improved significantly. Living standards would be raised. Major progress would be made in building a resource-conserving and environmentally friendly society.
The report to the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017 pointed out that to succeed in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China must strive against all difficulties to promote coordinated progress in the economic, political, cultural, social and eco-environmental fields in light of the current principal challenge facing the country, so that the moderately prosperous society it builds earns the people's approval and stands the test of time.
On July 1, 2021, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and president of China, declared on behalf of the Party and the people that China had realized the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
This is a critical step towards the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, fulfilling the historic commitment of the CPC and the Chinese government to the people.
2. Steps Taken to Protect Human Rights
The route to all-round moderate prosperity coincides with comprehensive progress in human rights in China, which involves all the steps necessary to liberate, protect and develop the individual.
Prioritizing the right to subsistence. The right to subsistence comes first among all human rights. A moderately prosperous society takes it as the primary goal to secure adequate food and clothing and protect the right to subsistence, and takes further steps to meet the growing material and cultural needs of the people. Visible progress in securing basic needs and remarkable improvements in living standards are the natural results of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Realizing the coordinated development of all human rights. A moderately prosperous society emphasizes economic, political, cultural, social, and eco-environmental progress to benefit the people. It upholds the basic principle of interdependence and indivisibility of human rights. To advance all human rights and fundamental freedoms in all respects, it protects economic, social, and cultural rights, political and democratic rights, personal rights, personality rights, and property rights.
Advancing the rights of all people. All-round moderate prosperity means all the people enjoy human rights. In the process of creating this society, China has built a system guaranteeing social equity with equal opportunities, equal rules and equal rights, in which all can participate in, contribute to, and enjoy development.
The CPC and the Chinese government uphold the universality of human rights and ensure that no one is left behind on the way towards prosperity. Holding fast to the principle of common prosperity, they allowed some people to create wealth as a first step to bringing prosperity for all. They have ensured just distribution in order that the fruits of development benefit all people equally. They adhere to the principles of equality before the law and non-discrimination, making sure all citizens are entitled to equal rights and respect without discrimination of any kind, such as ethnicity, race, gender, occupation, birth, religion, education, property, or length of residence. Committed to protecting the basic rights of vulnerable groups, particularly poor people in impoverished areas, they have eliminated extreme poverty by applying strong determination, clear thinking, effective measures, and all resources available.
3. Reinforced Groundwork for Human Rights
Human rights are the foundation of good governance. China has always been committed to respecting, protecting and advancing human rights, and increasing the people's sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. The route to moderate prosperity has reinforced the groundwork for human rights.
Providing a solid material foundation for protecting and developing human rights. In the process of building a moderately prosperous society, China has maintained its commitment to the new development philosophy. The economy has achieved long-term rapid growth and the basic needs of over one billion people have been met. The urban-rural divide has been resolved and the income distribution profile has been reformed to improve living standards. Targeted poverty reduction and eradication has achieved success, strengthening protection of all vulnerable groups. A social security system covering all the people is in place, with better medical services and a higher overall level of health. Public cultural services have improved. Free compulsory education has been realized in both urban and rural areas. An efficient and ubiquitous information network has been set up. With accelerated efforts to build an eco-civilization, a basic national policy of environmental protection has been implemented, measures to prevent and control pollution have intensified, and the eco-environment has notably improved.
In a moderately prosperous society, economic, political, social, cultural and environmental rights are more equitable and more easily accessible to all people to ensure equal rights to participation and development in all fields.
Providing a solid political and democratic foundation for protecting and developing human rights. In achieving moderate prosperity, China has ensured that the Party's leadership, the people's position as masters of the country and law-based governance form an indivisible whole. The institutions and mechanisms by which the Party exercises leadership have improved. The system of people's congresses, the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the system of community-level self-governance have developed steadily.
The institutions, standards and procedures of law-based socialist democracy have improved, with more diverse forms of democracy and wider democratic channels. A social governance model based on collaboration and common interests has taken shape and the principle of the people as masters of the country is put into practice in China's political and social fields. Civil, political and democratic rights are better protected.
Strengthening legal protection for human rights. The Constitution stipulates that the state shall respect and protect human rights, which is an important principle in state governance. Advancing the rule of law has been made a national strategy. Systems and mechanisms to ensure the enforcement of the Constitution are improving. Further progress has been made to ensure sound lawmaking, strict law enforcement, impartial administration of justice, and the observance of law by all. Our efforts to build a country, government, and society based on the rule of law are mutually reinforcing. The system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics has been steadily improved, and public awareness of the rule of law has risen markedly.
Good progress has been made in reforming the system of government administration, the national supervision system, and the judicial system. Effective measures have been taken to develop other systems to strengthen checks and oversight over the exercise of power. The role of the rule of law in protecting human rights has been enhanced.
Fostering a culture to respect and protect human rights throughout society. In building a moderately prosperous society, China has promoted the creative evolution of fine traditional culture, and rooted the core socialist values among the people. Public cultural services have been improved, with cultural programs and industries flourishing. Endeavors to achieve moderate prosperity have fostered a Chinese spirit, Chinese values, and Chinese strength, and cultivated stronger cultural confidence. China's cultural soft power and the international influence of Chinese culture have increased significantly. The process of achieving moderate prosperity helps everyone improve the understanding of their own value, personal dignity and principal status, fostering a culture that respects and protects human rights.
II. Ending Extreme Poverty and Securing the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
Poverty is the biggest obstacle to human rights. The CPC and the Chinese government have directed extra attention to rural poverty, furthering development-driven poverty alleviation, and achieving a series of important breakthroughs. The 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 made ending extreme poverty China's benchmark task in achieving moderate prosperity in all respects. By eliminating extreme poverty China has won the biggest and toughest battle against poverty in human history, to the benefit of the largest number of people.
By the end of 2020, by China's current poverty threshold of RMB 2,300 per person per year (based on the 2010 price index), all of the 99 million rural poor, as well as the 832 counties and 128,000 villages classified as poor, had emerged from poverty, and regional poverty was eliminated.
Since the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, 770 million rural poor living below China's poverty line have been raised from poverty; against the World Bank's international poverty line, the number of people lifted out of poverty in China accounts for more than 70 percent of the world total during the same period. China realized its poverty reduction goal from the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, representing a significant contribution to global poverty reduction and human progress.
1. Securing the Right to Food for the Poor
China bases its food security on solid agricultural foundations. It has built a modern agrotechnology system, improved comprehensive agricultural productivity, maintained the steady growth of agricultural output, and resolved the problems of insufficient food and undernutrition. China's total grain output increased from 113 million tons in 1949 to 669 million tons in 2020. China's per capita share of grain now exceeds 474 kg, which is comfortably above the international food security threshold of 400 kg.
China has ensured that all the poor have access to food by increasing their incomes through targeted poverty alleviation. The per capita disposable income of rural residents in poor areas increased from RMB 6,079 in 2013 to RMB 12,588 in 2020, an average annual increase of 11.6 percent. The amount of grain they consumed increased steadily. Now, the problem of food shortages has been resolved. Key impoverished groups have much better nutrition, and the right to be free from hunger is guaranteed.
China ensures a proper food supply for poor children through nutrition programs. The Chinese government has implemented the Nutrition Improvement Program for Children in Poor Areas, providing children aged six months to two years in contiguous poverty-stricken areas with free food supplements－one pack per child per day. By 2020, this program had benefited 11.2 million children. There is also a Nutrition Improvement Program for Rural Students in Compulsory Education, providing them with nutrition allowances. This program covers 132,000 schools and benefits over 38 million students every year.
2. Ensuring Safe Drinking Water for the Poor
Since 2005, the Chinese government has made an enormous investment in its Safe Drinking Water Program for Rural Areas. By the end of 2015, the program had benefited 520 million rural residents, including 47 million teachers and students. During the 13th Five-year Plan period (2016-2020), it launched an upgraded program, which improved access to safe drinking water for 382 million rural people, including 28.9 million rural poor. Tap water coverage in poor areas increased from 70 percent in 2015 to 83 percent in 2020. Through replacement of water sources, water purification, and population resettlement, China has resolved the problem of excess fluoride in drinking water for 9.52 million rural people.
3. Providing Compulsory Education in Poor Areas
To guarantee compulsory education and prevent poverty from passing down from one generation to the next, China launched the Plan for Poverty Alleviation Through Education During the 13th Five-year Plan period and the Implementation Plan for Poverty Alleviation Through Education in Severely Impoverished Areas (2018-2020).
A great effort has been invested in improving school conditions and education quality for compulsory education in poor areas. Now, all primary and secondary schools in China have access to the internet, and 95.3 percent have multimedia classrooms.
The Program for Special Teaching Posts in Rural Compulsory Education has been implemented to attract more university graduates to teach in poor rural areas. Living subsidies are offered to rural teachers in contiguous poverty-stricken areas, which benefit nearly 1.3 million teachers from more than 80,000 schools. A total of 190,000 teachers have been dispatched to remote and poor areas and to border areas with large ethnic minority populations.
The system of financial aid to students has been improved to provide targeted assistance. Students from registered poor households all receive living subsidies during their compulsory education. Every year, about 150 million students are given exemption from school fees and textbook fees; about 25 million students in economic difficulty are provided with living subsidies; and about 14 million students from migrant worker families have had their compulsory education subsidies transferred to their urban schools. All students from poor rural households have access to compulsory education, and dropouts are all identified and helped back to school in a timely manner. In 2020, the compulsory education completion rate in poor counties reached 94.8 percent.
4. Providing Essential Medical Services for the Poor
China launched the Health Care Program for Poverty Alleviation, taking comprehensive measures to guarantee access to essential medical services for the rural poor, and to prevent them from falling back into poverty due to ill health.
Continuous efforts have been made to improve the three-tiered medical services system at village, township and county levels. Every village has a clinic, and every town or township has a health center served by licensed doctors, except for villages, towns and townships that already satisfy the requirements for basic medical services. Each of the counties formerly classified as poor has at least one public hospital, and 98 percent of them have at least one Grade II hospital. The aim is to ensure the poor can have common ailments and chronic diseases treated at nearby medical institutions in a timely manner.
All poor populations have access to basic medical insurance, serious illness insurance, and medical assistance. Basic medical insurance coverage of the poor remains almost 100 percent. Measures have been taken to ensure medical treatment to those with serious illnesses, contracted health care to those with chronic illnesses, and guaranteed medical services for those with critical illnesses. Now, 30 illnesses are covered by special funds for serious illnesses of the rural poor, including congenital heart defects in children, leukemia in children, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, and serious mental illnesses. The funds have supported treatment for more than 20 million poor patients, relieving their families of the financial burden incurred by medical expenses.
5. Ensuring Safe Housing for the Poor
To guarantee safe housing for the rural poor, China has launched programs such as the renovation of dilapidated rural homes and construction of rural public rental housing. Tens of millions of people have had their dilapidated mud-and-straw dwellings replaced by safe homes which are more comfortable and offer better protection against earthquakes. The right to housing and basic housing safety of the rural poor were fundamentally guaranteed.
Between 2008 and 2020, the central government allocated a total of RMB 284 billion for the renovation of 27.6 million dilapidated homes, targeting registered poor households, households entitled to subsistence allowances, severely impoverished rural residents cared for at their homes with government support, and impoverished families of individuals with disabilities. These funds have helped to guarantee access to safe housing for 80 million rural poor.