III. Boosting Human Rights with Development and Securing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
In building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China is committed to boosting human rights with development and securing economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental rights. As a result, its people now lead more prosperous, secure, harmonious and happier lives.
1. Putting Life First in Fighting Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic is the most serious global health emergency in a century. Facing this crisis, China has put the people's interests first－nothing is more precious than people's lives. It has adopted thorough, rigorous and effective prevention and control measures, regardless of huge economic and social costs. It has turned the tide in the battle against the virus and safeguarded people's lives and health.
In the early days of the epidemic, China mobilized the whole nation and carried out a campaign to save lives on an unprecedented scale. It pooled the best doctors, the most advanced equipment, and critical supplies from across the country to aid Hubei Province, especially its capital city of Wuhan.
From January 24 to March 8, 2020, it rallied 346 national medical teams, consisting of 42,600 medical workers and more than 900 public health professionals to the immediate aid of Hubei; it mobilized 40,000 construction workers and a huge array of machinery and equipment to build the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital in 10 days, the 1,600-bed Leishenshan Hospital in 12 days, and 16 temporary treatment centers providing more than 14,000 beds in just over 10 days. Across Hubei, more than 3,000 patients over the age of 80, including seven centenarians, were cured, with many of them brought back to life from the verge of death. This fully demonstrated that the state respects and protects each and every life.
China did everything possible to treat all patients. The government promptly adopted policies to subsidize medical expenses for Covid-19 to ensure that patients could receive timely treatment and that medical institutions could proceed smoothly with admission and treatment. They proved to be very effective in raising the cure rate and lowering the fatality rate.
China has combined ongoing targeted control and local emergency response, and consolidated the gains in its fight against Covid-19. It is making every effort to vaccinate its people and moving faster to form nationwide immunity.
2. Ensuring Equitable and Accessible Health Services
Prosperity for all is impossible without health for all. China gives top priority to improving its people's health. It is carrying out the Healthy China initiative and has worked out action plans to ensure that basic public health services are inclusive and efficient, and to make health and medical services more equitable, accessible, convenient and affordable.
A basic public health services system is in place. The number of medical and health institutions in China, including hospitals, grassroots medical institutions and specialized public health institutions, increased from 170,000 in 1978 to over 1 million in 2020. A public health services system consisting of various specialized institutions has taken shape, providing disease prevention and control, health education, maternal and child health care, mental health care, emergency response, blood collection and supply, health inspection, and other services.
The range of public health services is expanding. Free basic public health services increased from nine categories in 2010 to 12 categories in 2020, spanning the entire life cycle. The state promotes many preventive services, such as screening for stroke and cardiovascular disease risk, comprehensive oral disease prevention and intervention, and early screening and treatment of cancer. China's capacity to prevent and control chronic illnesses has improved remarkably. Major infectious diseases have been effectively contained. By raising the vaccination rates under the national immunization program, China eradicated polio in 2000 and neonatal tetanus in 2012. It eliminated malaria in 2020 and was awarded a malaria-free certification from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021. The spread of HIV remains at a low level, and the cure rate of tuberculosis is maintained at over 90 percent.
China's medical services system has been improving. The country is committed to building an integrated medical services system of high quality and efficiency and improving the availability and accessibility of medical resources. As a result, public satisfaction with medical services is rising notably.
In 2020, the number of beds in medical institutions across the country reached 9.1 million, including 7.1 million beds in hospitals and 1.4 million in township-level health centers. There were 10.7 million health professionals, including 4.1 million licensed doctors and assistant doctors and 4.7 million registered nurses. That year recorded 7.8 billion medical visits. The rate of prenatal care was 96.8 percent, and the rate of hospital deliveries reached 99.9 percent.
China provides a reasonable distribution of medical resources. It is building a tiered treatment system featuring primary treatment at the community level, flexible interhospital patient transfer, differentiated treatment for acute and chronic illnesses, and coordination across different levels. It has put an end to the practice of hospitals subsidizing their medical services with drug sales and established a system of essential medicines. All government-funded medical institutions across the country are supplied with essential medicines, which are guaranteed to meet priority health care needs and sold with zero markup.
Public health indicators are steadily improving. The core health indicators of the Chinese have generally surpassed the average level of middle- and high-income countries. The average life expectancy in China rose from 67.8 years in 1981 to 77.3 years in 2019. Infant mortality declined from 37.6 per 1,000 in the early days of reform and opening up to 5.4 per 1,000 in 2020; and maternal mortality dropped from 43.2 per 100,000 in 2002 to 16.9 per 100,000 in 2020. In recognition of its achievements, China has been hailed by the WHO as a role model for developing countries and a fast-track country in improving maternal and child health.
The Law on the Promotion of Basic Medical and Health Care has been adopted and implemented, providing a legal guarantee for comprehensive health care for the full life cycle and for the Healthy China initiative. With steady social and economic improvement, the state devotes itself to helping citizens develop healthy lifestyles. A social atmosphere has taken shape where both urban and rural residents do regular exercise in their spare time and pay attention to a healthy diet.
3. Upgrading the Quality of Life
Incomes continue to rise. For four decades, China's economy has been growing steadily. From 1978 to 2020, the country's per capita GDP increased from RMB 385 to RMB 72,000. In 2020, the average per capita disposable income was RMB 32,189. Consumption patterns are improving. In 2020, the Engel coefficient was 30.2 percent, down 33.7 percentage points from 1978. Housing conditions have improved markedly. In 2019, the per capita floor space of urban residents was 39.8 sq m, up from 4.2 sq m in 1978, and that of rural residents was 48.9 sq m, up from 8.1 sq m in 1978. Urban park green space per capita increased from 1.5 sq m in 1981 to 14.36 sq m in 2019. Construction projects have been launched to provide affordable housing to urban residents, helping nearly 200 million poor people improve their housing conditions.
China's transport infrastructure network has been improving steadily, resulting in more convenient and safer public transport. By the end of 2020, the country's rail length had grown to 146,000 km, and high-speed rail had reached 38,000 km; road length had increased to 5.2 million km, including 161,000 km of expressways; urban rail transit had reached 7,355 km.
The availability of IT applications has improved greatly. The Chinese government makes great efforts to develop new types of infrastructure to ensure that the people benefit more from the use of information technology. In 2020, every 100 people had 113.9 mobile phones; internet usage was 70.4 percent nationwide and 55.9 percent in rural areas. By June 2021, 847,000 5G base stations had been built and put into operation across the country. New business forms represented by online shopping are thriving. In 2020, there were 782 million online shoppers, accounting for 79.1 percent of all internet users, and nationwide online retail sales reached RMB 11.8 trillion, up 10.9 percent from 2019.
4. Maximizing Employment
China advocates an employment-first strategy and a proactive employment policy. It encourages widespread entrepreneurship and innovation, and gives top priority to ensuring stability in employment and people's wellbeing. It is committed to realizing fuller employment, with decent jobs for all and harmonious labor relations. It has established a five-tiered employment services network covering the province, city, county, sub-district/township, and community/village levels.
As of 2020, there were 45,800 employment services agencies in China, helping 290 million people find temporary or long-term work; China's employed population reached 750 million, of whom 463 million were in urban areas. In 2019, the growth in new jobs in urban areas was 13.5 million, and the figure had remained above 13 million for seven consecutive years. In 2020, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were 11.9 million new jobs in urban areas.
Private enterprises provide more than 80 percent of urban jobs. New industries and new business forms and models continue to emerge, creating a large number of part-time or flexible jobs. Workers' incomes are increasing rapidly. The average annual salary of employees in urban non-private units rose from RMB 615 in 1978 to RMB 90,501 in 2019.
5. Enhancing Public Cultural Services
Over the past four decades, China's public cultural services have continued to improve. Art, literature, culture and sports are thriving.
In 2020, China had 3,212 public libraries, 5,788 museums, 3,321 cultural centers, 32,825 township-level cultural stations, and 575,384 village-level cultural service centers. In publishing, 27.7 billion copies of newspapers, 2 billion copies of magazines, and 10.1 billion copies of books were issued, a per capita average of 7.2 books.
In 2020, the coverage of radio programs was 99.4 percent, and the coverage of TV programs 99.6 percent. The country produced 202 TV series, TV animations with a total length of 116,688 minutes, 531 feature films, and 119 popular science films, documentaries, animated cartoons and special films. Public-interest cultural initiatives to ensure radio and television coverage for all households, bring cinema to rural communities, and set up rural libraries were implemented to provide consistent and equal access to basic public cultural services and to protect the people's basic cultural rights and interests.
In 2020, a total of 1,274 terabytes of public cultural resources were created through projects under the public digital cultural services program. Among them, the digital library project covered 39 provincial-level and 376 city-level libraries, with services radiating into 2,760 county-level libraries.
The state is promoting a national fitness program. Sports venues of various types have been built or renovated, including public stadiums, fitness centers, sports parks, running trails, soccer fields, and multifunctional fitness facilities. In 2020, there were 3.7 million sports venues in China, with a total floor area of 3.1 billion sq m (2.2 sq m per capita); 37.2 percent of the population took part in regular exercise; the rural fitness program covered almost all villages.
6. Guaranteeing the Right to Education
China runs education for the public good and regards equal access to education as a basic national education policy. It has made significant progress in protecting the right to education. The gross enrollment rate in three-year preschool education rose to 85.2 percent in 2020 from 56.6 percent in 2010. In 2020, the completion rate of compulsory education was 95.2 percent, and the availability of compulsory education reached the average level of high-income countries. More than 95 percent of children with disabilities received compulsory education.
The state has established a policy system for subsidizing students with financial difficulties, which offers full coverage from preschool to postgraduate education. As a result, the goal of ensuring that no student drops out of school due to financial difficulties has now been largely achieved. The state gives more support to education in rural areas and central and western regions. Thanks to this, 96.8 percent of the counties nationwide have realized balanced compulsory education, and more children in rural areas and central and western regions enjoy better access to quality education.
The gross enrollment rate in senior secondary education increased from 42.8 percent in 2000 to 91.2 percent in 2020, higher than the average of upper-middle-income countries. The gross enrollment rate in higher education rose from 12.5 percent in 2000 to 54.4 percent in 2020. China has built the world's largest higher education system, with over 40 million students on campus.
7. Expanding Social Security to Cover All Citizens
Social security is a basic institutional guarantee for safeguarding and improving people's lives, ensuring social equity and enhancing their sense of wellbeing.
In 2020, 340 million people were covered by basic medical insurance for urban workers, and 1.02 billion by basic medical insurance for rural and non-working urban residents－a total of 1.36 billion. As of June 2021, basic old-age insurance for urban workers covered 467 million people, basic old-age insurance for rural and non-working urban residents covered 547 million, and unemployment insurance covered 222 million. Work-related injury insurance covered 274 million, 90.8 million of whom were migrant workers. Childbirth insurance covered more than 235 million people. In addition, the state has established a serious illness insurance covering both urban and rural residents, which is a supplement to the basic medical insurance systems, reimbursing the victims of serious illnesses for their high medical expenses.
China has established a comprehensive and inclusive social assistance system whose main provisions are subsistence allowances, assistance and support for severely impoverished people, disaster relief, medical assistance, education assistance, housing assistance, employment assistance, and temporary assistance, supplemented by public participation. At the end of 2020, 8 million people lived on urban subsistence allowances, 36.2 million on rural subsistence allowances, 310,000 on assistance and support for urban residents in extreme difficulty, and 4.5 million on assistance and support for rural residents in extreme difficulty. In 2020, 13.4 million received temporary assistance; 186 million received medical assistance worth of RMB 54.7 billion.
To guarantee a basic living to people in difficulties caused by Covid-19, the government provided temporary subsidies totaling RMB 21.8 billion to residents in need when the Consumer Price Index fluctuates beyond a certain range, benefitting 400 million people. Due to impact from Covid-19, subsistence allowances were extended to an additional 2.4 million people facing difficulties, and 2.5 million received temporary assistance.
8. Improving the Eco-environment
A sound eco-environment is the most inclusive benefit to people's wellbeing. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the central leadership has incorporated eco-environmental progress as part of the Five-sphere Integrated Plan for national development and has promoted an environment-friendly development model, advocating that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. It has enforced strict eco-environmental red lines and made solid efforts to prevent and control pollution, working to build a beautiful China and protect environmental rights.
The air has become cleaner through efforts to keep the sky blue. In 2020, China's CO2 emissions per RMB 10,000 of GDP fell by 48.4 percent from 2005, achieving the goal of a 40-to-45-percent fall during this period ahead of schedule. The proportion of natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power, wind power and other types of clean energy in total energy consumption rose from 19.1 percent in 2016 to 24.3 percent in 2020. Among the 337 cities at and above prefecture level nationwide, 202 met the air quality standards in 2020.
Water quality is improving through efforts to keep waters clear. In 2020, 83.4 percent of the 1,940 surface water sections monitored by the state showed excellent and good quality (meeting Class I to Class III surface water quality standards), up 8.5 percentage points from 2019; 0.6 percent of sections suffered from poor water quality below Class V, down 2.8 percentage points from 2019. In 2020, 77.4 percent of offshore waters reached Class I and Class II sea water quality standards, up 0.8 percentage point from 2019; 9.4 percent of offshore waters were worse than Class IV, down 2.3 percentage points from 2019.
Effective measures have been taken to bring under control the risks associated with worsening soil qualities. The state has formulated the Law on Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution, and implemented its action plan for addressing soil pollution. National soil pollution surveys have been carried out, with the focus on land for agriculture and key industries and enterprises. From 2014 to 2019, more than 3,500 heavy-metal enterprises were shut down in accordance with laws and regulations, and more than 850 heavy-metal discharge reduction projects were carried out. The soil quality of agricultural land is subject to classification and restoration, and the soil environment of agricultural land remains stable. China has banned the import of foreign waste, and imports have largely fallen to zero.
The living environment is improving. In 2020, sanitary toilets were used by more than 68 percent of rural households. The system for the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of domestic waste covered more than 90 percent of villages. Domestic sewage treatment covered 25.5 percent of rural areas. In 46 major cities, 83 million households in 94.6 percent of communities were involved in domestic waste sorting programs. More than 90 percent of black and fetid water bodies in built-up areas of cities at and above prefecture level had been eliminated.
China enforces stringent eco-environmental conservation. As of 2020, nearly 10,000 nature reserves had been established across the country, covering 18 percent of China's land mass, and bringing some 90 percent of land ecosystems and 85 percent of key wild animal populations under effective protection. China's forest coverage rose from 12.7 percent in the early 1970s to 23 percent in 2020. While the global forest stock decreased by 178 million ha between 1990 and 2020, China's forest area has seen an average annual increase of 2.5 million ha in the past decade, ranking top in the world. Between 2012 and June 2021, China completed desertification control work involving over 19 million ha of land, and 1.8 million ha have been closed off to prevent deterioration. China has become the first country to achieve a zero increase in desertification, making a great contribution to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development goal of zero increase in land degradation across the globe.
9. Achieving a Higher HDI Score
According to the Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), China was among the low-ranked countries in terms of the human development index (HDI) score in 1990; it moved into the ranks of countries with medium HDI scores in 1996; it ascended into the ranks of countries with high HDI scores in 2011. From 1990 to 2019, China's HDI score increased from 0.499 to 0.761. China is the only country to have risen from a low-ranked country to a high-ranked country since 1990, when the UNDP first started to calculate countries 'HDI ratings.
IV. Protecting Civil and Political Rights with Law and Governance
In building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the CPC and the Chinese government have pursued a people-centered development philosophy, and adopted vigorous and practical measures to develop whole-process people's democracy, uphold social equity and justice, and ensure by law that people enjoy more extensive rights and freedoms.
1. Expanding People's Democratic Rights
China ensures the principal status of the people, and improves the system of people's congresses, the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation, and the system of community-level self-governance. It has worked to diversify the forms of democracy and establish more democratic channels. People's democratic rights are effectively protected.
Implementing orderly democratic election processes. Both rural and urban areas are represented by people's congress deputies in proportion to their population, and all regions, ethnic groups, and sectors of society have a certain proportion of deputies.
To guarantee people's rights to vote and to stand for election, deputies to the people's congresses at the county level and below are directly elected, and measures are taken to ensure the elections are clean and the results are satisfactory to the people. In the elections to the people's congresses at county and township levels beginning in 2016, more than 1 billion constituents cast votes for nearly 2.5 million deputies. There are now more than 2.6 million deputies to the people's congresses at all five levels－the province, city, county, township, and village levels.
Steadily advancing socialist consultative democracy. Democratic consultation is applied extensively as a mechanism at multiple levels. The fields and procedures of consultation are well regulated. Extensive consultation is conducted on matters concerning overall economic and social development and related to the vital interests of the people.
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) serves as a major channel and specialized body for socialist consultative democracy. It has worked hard to play its role well and apply the results of consultation to good effect. Between January 2012 and June 2021, the CPPCC National Committee had received 58,768 proposals, 48,496 of which were placed on file. Most of the suggestions in the proposals were adopted and implemented.
Improving community-level self-governance. China has amended the Organic Law of the Urban Residents Committees and the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees to improve and regulate the election and removal procedures for committee members. More than 10 rounds of villagers committee elections have been held in villages across the nation. More than 98 percent of these have been conducted by direct election, with more than 95 percent of villagers taking part. The state has worked to expand the channels for the migrant population to participate in community-level governance in their residential areas.
In the fight against poverty, China has paid special attention to improving the mechanism for self-governance by villagers. All matters related to the implementation of poverty alleviation policies, allocation and use of public funds, and projects for improving people's wellbeing are subject to extensive public discussion and consultation to build consensus and obtain popular support.
The system for the democratic management of enterprises and public institutions in the form of workers congresses has improved. Across the country, 29 provinces and equivalent administrative units have issued 36 local regulations concerning the democratic management of enterprises, to guarantee workers' right to participate in management and oversight, and to protect their lawful rights and interests.
Protecting the rights to know, to participate, to express views, and to supervise the exercise of power. China has put in place an audit result announcement system and revised the Regulations on Government Information Disclosure to improve government transparency and protect citizens' right to know.
Internet-based government services have improved. E-government has been promoted to ensure access to all government services through a single portal, shortening the process by over 40 percent for more than half of the items requiring administrative licensing. Moreover, online and one-stop services are provided for over 82 percent of the items requiring provincial administrative licensing, and 50 commonly used government services and 200 public services are provided on an inter-provincial basis to ensure easier access. According to the E-Government Survey 2020 published by the United Nations, China ranks 9th on both the Online Service Index and the E-Participation Index, showing a very high level of e-government development.
Democratic lawmaking is ensured through improved systems for legislative deliberations and solicitation of public opinion on draft laws, so that every law reflects the will of the people. By the end of 2020, the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) had solicited public opinion on 87 draft laws.
China has improved the mechanism of law-based decision-making. This makes public participation, expert discussion, risk assessment, legality review, and group discussion statutory procedures in major administrative decision-making, so as to make decision-making more democratic.
China provides open, smooth, efficient and convenient channels for people to express their opinions and demands. Public complaints can be submitted online as well as through letters, visits, calls and other channels. This ensures that extensive public opinion is collected, that citizens' legitimate demands are addressed quickly, in situ and by law, and that people can participate in the management of public affairs in an orderly manner and supervise state agencies in exercising their powers.
From 2018 to 2020, the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC heard and reviewed a total of 52 work reports of the State Council, the National Supervisory Commission, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. It examined the implementation of 19 laws and decisions. It conducted 18 surveys and 8 consultations on subjects such as the outline of the 14th Five-year Plan, targeted poverty alleviation, pollution prevention and control, and reform of the social security system.
With a well-defined role in democratic supervision, the CPPCC has strengthened its function of democratic supervision, with clearer priorities and in more forms. It has improved the mechanisms for organizing democratic supervision, protecting related rights and interests, providing informed feedback, and facilitating communication and coordination, so that supervision is embodied in consultation and consultative supervision plays a better role.
Reform of the national supervision system has been advanced to strengthen all-round law-based supervision of public servants in the exercise of public power. The systems of people's assessors and supervisors have been improved to ensure citizens' right to judicial participation and supervision.
2. Protecting Personal Rights
China respects human dignity and value, and protects citizens' personal rights and liberty in accordance with the law.
Respecting and protecting personal liberty. Unlawful deprivation or restriction of a citizen's personal freedom is prohibited. In 2013, the Standing Committee of the 12th NPC adopted a decision to repeal laws and regulations on reeducation through labor. In 2019, the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC adopted a decision to repeal laws and regulations on detention education. In 2020, the State Council abolished the Measures for the Detention Education of Persons Engaging in Prostitution and Whoring. The abolition of reeducation through labor and detention education embodies the constitutional principle of respecting and protecting human rights, and demonstrates China's commitment to protecting citizens' personal liberty by law.
Facilitating the movement of people. China has continued to reform the household registration system. It conducts unified household registration of urban and rural areas to enable rural people who have stable jobs and have lived in urban areas for the appropriate time to register as permanent urban residents. In this way, China ensures that people enjoy equal rights. In 2020, the urbanization rate of registered population reached 45.4 percent, an increase of 10.1 percentage points from 2012. Since 2010, more than 15 million unregistered people have completed household registration.
The Cyberspace Administration of China and three other departments jointly issued in March 2021 the Provisions on the Scope of Required Personal Information for Common Types of Mobile Applications, clearly defining the personal information required for 39 common types of mobile apps. Between May and July 2021, the authorities conducted an assessment of personal information protection provided by 1,035 frequently downloaded apps of 12 common types. In an ensuing public notice, 351 apps were criticized for seriously violating laws and regulations, and 52 apps were taken down for failing to correct their violations within the required time frame. As a result, infringements of privacy in the collection and use of personal information have declined.
China strikes hard at telecom and cyber fraud, and severely punishes crimes involving infringements of personal information, to strengthen protection of personal privacy. In 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, people's courts at all levels concluded 1,393, 2,315, 2,627, and 2,558 such cases at first instance, and 273, 292, 331, and 395 cases at first instance related to privacy disputes.
Cases of unauthorized access to users' address book data by mobile phone apps and abuse of personal credit information by online credit platforms are subject to legal procedures. The notice and takedown rule is accurately applied. Any online platform being used to spread defamation is ordered to delete relevant information as requested by the victim. In 2019 and 2020, people's courts at all levels concluded 4,059 and 4,058 cases at first instance on online infringement liability. The prosecuting bodies have made the protection of personal information a focus of their efforts to expand the coverage of public interest litigation.
Protecting the lawful rights and interests of detainees and prisoners. China has regulated and reduced the application of compulsory custodial measures. When detainees enter a house of detention, they are informed of their rights and obligations, and their complaints are handled in accordance with due procedure. Relevant laws and regulations have been improved to guarantee the dignity and lawful rights of detainees, including the right to meet lawyers, appeal, and receive medical treatment. Prison affairs are open to the public. Procuratorial and law enforcement supervision has been improved to protect prisoners' lawful rights and interests. Some prisoners are allowed leave of absence from prison to visit their families.
The Community Correction Law was enacted, which embodies respect for and protection of human rights in law-based management, and integrates supervision and management with education and assistance. To protect the legitimate rights of those subject to community corrections, China provides subsistence allowances, temporary assistance, social security, and employment and education assistance. By the end of 2020, a total of 5.37 million people throughout the country had received community service orders. Of these, 4.73 million had completed their service, and 640,000 were still subject to their service orders. The recidivism rate in the case of those assigned to community service remains low at 0.2 percent.
China has improved the assistance and management system for people released after completing their prison sentence, ensures their access to social assistance, and provides employment assistance to them to enable a smooth return to normal life.
3. Protecting Individual Property Rights
Improving property rights protection with fairness as the core principle. China has cleared up unfair laws and regulations, strengthened protection of the property rights of economic organizations under all forms of ownership and of natural persons, and encouraged, supported and guided the development of the non-public sector. It has ensured that economic entities under all forms of ownership have equal access to factors of production in accordance with the law, can participate in market competition on a level playing field, and enjoy equal legal protection.
The Constitution stipulates that citizens' lawful private property is inviolable, and the state protects citizens' property and inheritance rights. The Civil Code stipulates equal protection of all property rights, strengthens protection of personal information, data and virtual property, and improves rules for the protection of rights and remedy for rights violations. As a result, an effective mechanism for rights protection has taken shape in China, and the legal framework for property rights protection continues to improve.
Providing legal guarantee for optimizing the business environment. China adheres to a series of principles and policies to encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector. It combats crimes infringing the lawful rights and interests of private enterprises and their operators, and protects the independent management of private enterprises and the personal and property safety of their owners in accordance with the law.
China adheres to the principle of restraint in the Criminal Law, regulates law enforcement and judicial activities involving private enterprises, prohibits criminal law intervention in economic disputes, and accurately applies compulsory measures in accordance with the law to minimize any impact on the normal work and business activities of enterprises. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate have publicized a series of guiding cases and typical cases concerning judicial protection of private enterprises, providing guidance for judicial bodies at all levels in handling cases.
Strengthening protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs). China is strengthening the protection and application of IPRs and improving the incentive mechanism for technological innovation. For a better market competition environment and innovation-driven development, China has improved infringement compensation that reflects the value of IPRs, demonstrating its determination to encourage and protect innovation.
China has set up intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which have tried major cases, established judgment rules and made consistent standards, and strengthened punishment for IPR infringement. The system is designed to address the problem that the cost of infringement is low and the cost of protection is high. The Supreme People's Procuratorate has set up an Intellectual Property Prosecution Office for guiding prosecution of criminal, civil, and administrative cases concerning IPR infringement and establishing a mechanism for comprehensive judicial protection of intellectual property rights.
China is also stepping up international dialogue, exchanges and cooperation on IPR law enforcement and justice, and working for fairer and sounder international IPR rules.
4. Reinforcing Judicial Guarantee for Human Rights
China has furthered judicial reform, fully implemented the judicial accountability system, improved protection of lawyers' practicing rights, and strengthened supervision over judicial activities, so as to safeguard the rights and interests of the people and ensure that fairness and justice apply in every judicial case.
Steadily advancing judicial reform. In 2014, the 18th CPC Central Committee adopted at its Fourth Plenary Session the CPC Central Committee's Resolution on Certain Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Advancing the Law-Based Governance of China, to fully reform the judicial system, ensure justice, and improve judicial credibility. China has implemented all-round judicial accountability reform, and improved judicial administration and the exercise of judicial power by delegating power in an orderly manner, rationally allocating power, and standardizing and strictly regulating the use of power.
China has improved the allocation of judicial functions and powers, and furthered reform to establish a criminal litigation system centered on court trials. It has strengthened legal supervision by prosecuting bodies, and underlined the role of litigation procedures in regulating the exercise of power. It has better defined the procedures, powers and accountabilities of the judiciary and law enforcement, and improved their coordination. China has also enhanced the institutions and mechanisms by which public security, prosecuting, judicial, and judicial administrative bodies perform their respective functions and work closely together while mutually checking on each other in the exercise of investigative, prosecuting, judicial and law enforcement powers.
Improving protection for judicial personnel to perform their duties. China has improved the system under which any leading officials found to have interfered in judicial activities or the handling of specific cases, or any judicial personnel found to have attempted to influence the result of a case, will be put on record and held accountable. This aims to ensure that the judiciary is free from interference by administrative bodies, social organizations or individuals.
China has standardized methods for the evaluation, accountability and sanctioning of judicial personnel, making it clear that judges and prosecutors who perform their duties in accordance with the law are not subject to legal action, and protecting those responsible for misjudgments that result in severe consequences as long as they have not intentionally violated laws and regulations or are not guilty of gross negligence. No judge or prosecutor may be transferred, removed, dismissed, or demoted without legal procedures and other than for legal reasons.
China has improved the relief mechanism for victimized judicial personnel and the mechanism for clarifying false reports against judicial personnel, and acts resolutely against infringements of the legitimate rights and interests of judicial personnel, so as to foster a social atmosphere that respects judicial adjudication and upholds judicial authority. It has also improved compensation and preferential treatment measures to provide judges and prosecutors with personal and property guarantees that are commensurate with their occupational risks.
Preventing and redressing miscarriages of justice. China has established and improved mechanisms for the identification, correction and prevention of misjudged cases, and for imposing accountability on those responsible. It adheres to the unity of procedural justice and substantive justice, and safeguards judicial justice. It strictly follows the principles of legality, presumption of innocence, evidence-based verdict, and exclusion of illegally obtained evidence. It prohibits forced confessions, corporal punishments, or abuse. It also implements a state compensation system to strengthen judicial guarantee of human rights.
In 2019 and 2020, people's courts at all levels retried 1,774 and 1,818 criminal cases respectively in accordance with trial supervision procedures and overthrew the original judgments, acquitting 637 and 656 defendants in public prosecution cases and 751 and 384 defendants in private prosecution cases, and concluded 18,164 and 18,433 state compensation cases to protect the legitimate rights and interests of compensation claimants. Between January 2020 and June 2021, prosecuting bodies at all levels lodged protests in 1,325 criminal cases through trial supervision procedures, while the courts changed 685 verdicts and remanded 134 cases for retrial in the same period. The prosecuting bodies raised 616 proposals for criminal retrial, and the courts changed 214 verdicts and remanded 6 cases for retrial over the same period. A number of major wrongful convictions were corrected in accordance with the law.
Strengthening protection of lawyers' practicing rights. China has issued the Provisions on Protecting Lawyers' Practicing Rights in Accordance with the Law, which provide comprehensive provisions protecting lawyers' litigation rights, such as the rights to meet their clients, examine case files, investigate, and obtain evidence, as well as to ask questions, conduct cross-examination, debate, and defend during court trials. It has also improved the relief and accountability mechanisms for protecting lawyers' rights.
The Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Justice, and the All-China Lawyers Association have set up a fast-track joint response mechanism for safeguarding lawyers' practicing rights, to ensure that lawyers can get timely and effective relief when their rights are infringed. The All-China Lawyers Association, and lawyers associations at provincial and city levels have all set up centers for safeguarding lawyers' practicing rights. The Supreme People's Procuratorate has carried out special programs to supervise and correct cases where law enforcement and judicial bodies hinder lawyers from exercising their litigation rights, so as to ensure the smooth progress of litigation activities. At the end of 2020, there were more than 34,000 law firms and 522,000 lawyers in China.
Increasing transparency in the administration of justice. China promotes openness in judicial, procuratorial, policing and prison affairs, and releases timely information on the legal basis, procedures, processes, results and effective legal documents of the judiciary and law enforcement in accordance with the law. With advances towards a smart judicial system, and increased IT application in judicature and law enforcement, people now have quicker and easier access to litigation services.
By the end of 2020, 98 percent of the courts across the country had widely applied information technology to their litigation systems, providing a full range of litigation services. 98 percent of the courts had opened service websites to provide online application for case filing, case inquiry, file access, and electronic document delivery.
From October 1, 2014, when the case information service system went online for China's prosecuting bodies, to June 30,2021, the website delivered procedural information on 15 million cases, published information on 1.1 million major cases and 6.6 million legal documents, and accepted 558,872 online applications for defense and litigation services. In 2019, the website was merged into 12309.gov.cn to upgrade online services, and China's prosecuting bodies began to advance faster in regular and standardized release of case information supported by IT.
Improving the legal aid system. China has implemented the Measures for the Work of Legal Aid Duty Lawyers, and set up legal aid stations at courts and detention centers. It has strengthened legal aid in criminal cases, implemented provisions on the scope of legal aid stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Law and related regulations, and carried out pilot programs to achieve full legal defense coverage in criminal cases.
China has expanded the coverage of legal aid in civil and administrative proceedings, and brought matters closely related to people's lives into the scope of legal aid. China has worked to alleviate poverty through legal empowerment, and expanded the scope and coverage of legal aid to benefit more people in need. To improve the quality of legal aid services, China has also issued and implemented norms for legal aid services in criminal, civil and administrative cases, and established standards for evaluating the efficacy of legal aid cases.
In 2020, 1.4 million legal aid cases were handled nationwide, helping 2.2 million people and providing legal advice to 14.7 million people; duty lawyers provided legal aid in 740,000 cases, including 680,000 cases where the rule of clemency applied to suspects and defendants who confessed to their crimes. By the end of 2020, more than 70,000 legal aid stations had been set up at courts, arbitral institutions, public complaints agencies, and township-level judicial offices to provide citizens with easy access to legal aid to address their concerns and solve disputes as early as possible.
5. Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief
The Constitution provides that the citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief. The Chinese government upholds the principle that all religious groups should operate independently and carry out religious activities within the law. It administers religious affairs involving state and public interests, but does not interfere in the internal affairs of religions. China has advanced the rule of law in the administration of religious affairs.
In 2017, China amended the Regulations on Religious Affairs to better protect citizen's freedom of religious belief. It has implemented the Rules on the Administration of Religious Activities of Foreigners in the People's Republic of China to protect foreigners' freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law.
China resolutely fights religious extremism and cults acting under the guise of religion. It now has 144,000 registered sites for religious activities, 92 religious academies, nearly 200 million citizens who believe in Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholic and Protestant Christianity, and other religions, and more than 380,000 clerical personnel.
China has improved social security for clerical personnel, with medical insurance covering 96.5 percent and old-age insurance covering 89.6 percent. With the citizens' freedom of religious belief fully protected, China enjoys religious and social harmony.