(15 February, Palais Wilson)
Members of the Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Chinese government, I am greatly honored to present China’s Third Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Chinese government has sent a high-level delegation consisting of the central government and the governments of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region (hereafter “SAR”). Delegates representing the central government come from key departments in charge of economic, social and cultural affairs, including the Supreme People’s Court, the State Council Information Office, the United Front Work Department, the Ministry of Education, the National Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the National Health Commission, the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control, the National Working Committee on Children and Women Under the State Council.
Members of the Committee,
In order to ensure the timely submission of the third periodic report, the Foreign Ministry of China formed an interdepartment working group with more than 30 legislative, judicial and administrative departments. The report was drafted carefully and submitted on time in December 2019. The report is a comprehensive reflection of China's policies, practices and achievements in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights since the last review. It also introduces in detail the latest development and progress made by China in implementing relevant Covenant articles and the concluding observations of the last periodic review. In addition, the Chinese government submitted a detailed replies to the Committess’s List of Issues on time in March 2022. Efforts were also made to coordinate the Hong Kong SAR and the Macao SAR to draft and submit their respective reports and replies to the List of Issues. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the participation of NGOs. In drafting their respective materials, all departments consulted relevant NGOs and academic research institutions. After collecting materials from relevant departments, the Foreign Ministry extensively sought the opinion of over 20 representative NGOs and academic research institutions, and consulted the public through its official website. This fully demonstrates China’s openness, transparency and responsible attitude to the review.
Members of the Committee,
Since its last review, China has steadfastly followed a Chinese path of human rights development and made historic progress in promoting its human rights cause, scoring new achievments in protecting Chinese people’s economic, social and cultural rights.
First, we made constant efforts to optimize the overall planing of the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights. Since the last review, China formulated and enacted new laws including the CivilCodeand the Anti-domestic Violence Law, revised the Population and Family Planning Law and the Education Law, and repealed regulations on re-education through labor. China has also issued dozens of policy papers covering specific areas of economic, social and cultural rights, including on development-driven poverty alleviation in rural areas, “healthy China”, education reform, social security, ecological conservation and environmental protection, development of ethnic minority areas, development of women and children, and undertakings for the elderly and the disabled. China has also released two consecutive National Human Rights Action Plans followed by earnest efforts on implementation and evaluation. All these have helped to establish an important legal and policy framework for the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights in China.
Second, the right to subsistence and the right to development have been upheld as the foremost basic human rights. In the past decade, China’s economic strength has taken a huge leap, with its GDP soaring from RMB54 trillion to RMB121 trillion, propelling it to the world's second largest economy, and contributing by around 36 percent to the world economic growth. At the average exchange rate, China’s per capita GPD has exceeded 12,000 US dollars for two consecutive years. China won the biggest battle against poverty in human history as scheduled, ending poverty for the 98.99 million rural residents living below the current poverty line, meeting the poverty eradication goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and contributing by over 70 percent to the world’s achievement in poverty reduction. China witnessed another bumper grain harvest for the 19years on end, with an annual grain output of over 1.3 trillion jin (650 million tonnes) over the past eight years.
Third, China has implemented a people-centered development strategy and secured and improved the people’s well-being in the process. China has also made extensive efforts under an employment-first approach. In the past decade, China’s employed population in urban areas has increased from 370 million to 480 million, with an annual growth of over 13 million, and kept the current surveyed urban unemployment rate at 5.6%. As a major country with a population of more than 1.4 billion, China has overcome the impact of the pandemic and the downward pressure in economy and achieved a relatively full employment. Since the last review, China built more than 59 million units of affordable housing and housing in run-down urban areas, and rebuilt over 24 million dilapidated rural houses, resulting in a significant improvement in housing conditions in both urban and rural areas. China has put in place the biggest social security system in the world. In the past decade, people covered by the basic old-age insurance increased from 790 million to 1.04 billion; those coverd by the unemployment insurance schemes increased from 150 million to 230 million; and those under the coverage of work-related injury insurance are up from 190 million to 290 million.
Fourth, the right to health was more adequately protected. China is moving forward with the Healthy China Initiative on all fronts, and shifted the focus on healthcare from treating illnesses to improving people's health. In the past decade, Chinese people’s average life expectancy has increased from 74.8 years to 78.2 years, and the Chinese people’s main health indicators rank high among the middle- and high-income countries. China has built the largest network of national basic medical insurance covering over 1.36 billion people, or more than 95 percent of the total population. The Chinese government has steadily increased investment in medical resources at the community level, especially in remote areas, making it possible for 90 percent of families in urban and rural areas to reach the nearest hospital within 15 minutes. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has put the people and their lives first, and managed to maintain the lowest rates of severe cases and case fatality in the world. China has recently refined its COVID response measures in light of the evolving situation and the increase of vaccination rates and containment experience, and experienced some short-term infection shock, which is now petering out.
Fifth, guided by the belief that pristine waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, we have brought significant improvement to China’s ecological environment. In the past decade, the average PM2.5 concentration in cities at or above the prefecture level dropped by 34.8 percent; the carbon dioxide emissions per unit of the GDP decreased by 34.4 percent nationwide; and the share of coal in the total energy consumption was down from 68.5 percent to 56 percent. China has announced that it will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. We have also decided to stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad. Green development has increasingly become a defining feature of China’s high-quality development.
Sixth, we have actively protected the right to education and cultural right. In a historic achievement of universal education, compulsory education is now fully free in both urban and rural areas, and moves are under way to deliver on universal higher education. A modem system of public cultural services is gradually taking shape. In the past decade, the added-value of China’s cultural industry increased from RMB1.8 trillion to RMB4.5 trillion, at an average annual growth rate of 12.1 percent; cultural market entities have increased from 36,000 to 65,000; libraries and culture pavilions have increased from 6,300 to 95,000; grassroot culture organizations have risen by 50 percent to 450,000; digital cultural resources available to the general public stand at 3,844 terabytes.
Seventh, we have further enhanced the protection of rights and interests of vulnerable groups. All 56 ethnic groups in China are equal, and the lawful rights and interests of ethnic minorities are effectively protected. China has adopted consecutively several Outlines for Women’s Development and Outlines for Children’s Development, amended the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests, as part of active efforts to promote gender equality and the all-around development of women and children. China is recognized by the WHO as one of the 10 fast-track countries in women’s and children’s health. By the end of 2020, the average life expectancy of women in China reached 80.88 years, up by 3.51 years compared with a decade ago. 85 million persons with disabilities in China are fully supported in their rehabilitation, education, employment and intellectual and cultural needs, and more than 95 percent of children with disabilities are enrolled in the compulsory education system. With the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in China, the rights to appreciate literature and receive education for people with reading disorder have been effectively protected. China is moving proactively to deal with the problem of an aging population by investing heavily in the 15-minute circles of elderly care services. For the 267 million aged-over 60 people in China, over 90 percent have access to at-home elderly care or community-based elderly care.
Eighth, we have actively promoted international cooperation in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. China has provided development aid to 166 countries and international organizations and dispatched more than 600,000 personnels. The China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund successively launched 34 development projects. The Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative put forward by China are warmly received and widely supported by the international community as an active contribution to the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights across the world.
Members of the Committee,
No one can claim a perfect record in human rights protection, as there is always room for improvement. China still faces multiple problems and challenges in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights, including a glaringly unbalanced and inadequate development, multiple bottlenecks in high-quality development, unresolved stumbling blocks in key reform areas,wide disparities in the income distribution as well as the levels of development between urban and rural areas and among different regions, along with a host of problems facing people in areas such as employment, education, medical services, childcare, elderly care and housing, not to mention daunting challenges in ecological conservation and environmental protection.
The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has set out China's central task in the near future,emphasizing the advancement of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization. Our goal is to basically achieve socialist modernization by 2035 and to turn China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of this century. The process of Chinese modernization is also a process of constantly promoting and protecting human rights, and China will strive relentlessly to realize the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights for all people at higher standards.
Members of the Committee,
According to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China, while the central government is responsible for the international obligations and duties arising from the application of the Covenant in the two SARs, the implementation reports in the two SARs are compiled and presented by their own representatives.
Now with your permission, I would like to give the floor to the two deputies of my delegation, Ms. FOO Siu-wai, Gracie from the Hong Kong SAR and Mr. LOU Soi Cheong from the Macao SAR, to present the implementation of the Covenant in Hong Kong and Macao respectively.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the Committee.