Full Text: Moderate Prosperity in All Respects: Another Milestone Achieved in China's Human Rights

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Thursday released a white paper titled "Moderate Prosperity in All Respects: Another Milestone Achieved in China's Human Rights."

XinhuaUpdated: August 12, 2021

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.

Securing personal information and privacy by law. China has enacted the Civil Code and strengthened protection of personality rights. The government has intensified efforts in protecting data and personal information in accordance with the law and taking firm action on infringements concerning personal information. Since 2016, it has taken special actions to handle cases involving suspected violations of personal information, effectively curbing such violations. In 2019, a campaign was launched nationwide to address collection and use of personal information by applications in violation of laws and regulations, focusing on the absence of a privacy policy, bundled and forced consent, and collection and use of personal information without consent. This campaign has increased transparency in the privacy policy of applications.

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.

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