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White Paper--Progress in China's Human Rights Conditions in 1998


The year 1998 is the 20th anniversary of China's initiation of the reform and opening-up policy and also a year when China witnessed continued advances in China's human rights while achieving steady development in its reform.

Despite the profound impact of the Asian financial crisis and the catastrophic flooding in China in 1998, China's national economy maintained a steady growth, the people's standard of living improved, the effort for developing democracy and a legal system was notably strengthened, and the human rights conditions maintained a good momentum of continuous improvement and promised further progress.

I. People's Rights to Subsistence and Development

China is a developing country with a population of 1.25 billion. The protection and promotion of people's rights to subsidence and development has been China's top task in the field of human rights.

Since China's start of reform and opening-up, the Chinese government has been listing the solving of people's rights to subsistence and development as its top priority.

Great efforts have been made to promote economic growth, consequently, the national economy has maintained a continuous and sound development with an average annual growth of 9.6 percent and the people's living standard has witnessed marked improvement.

In the past 20 years, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased by nearly five times, the per capita GDP went up by 3.4 times and the income of urban and rural residents also rose by a big margin.

Between 1978 and 1997, the per capita income of rural residents increased from 133.6 yuan to 2,090.1 yuan, a rise of 3.4 times in real terms after deducting price fluctuations with an average annual increase of 8.1 percent.

The average per capita disposable income of urban residents rose from 343.4 yuan to 5,160.3 yuan during the same period, up 2.1 times in real terms after deducting price fluctuations with an average annual increase of 6.2 percent.

Saving deposits of urban and rural residents increased from 21.06 billion yuan in 1978 to 4627.98 billion yuan in 1997 and the per capita saving deposits rose from 22 yuan to 3,744 yuan, up 218.8 times and 169.2 times, respectively.

People's housing conditions were also remarkably improved. The per capita living space for urban residents expanded from 3.6 square meters in 1978 to 8.8 square meters in 1997, a rise of 1.4 times and that for rural residents enlarged from 8.1 square meters to 22.46 square meters, up 1.8 times.

The domestic market has an abundant supply of consumer goods and for most of the commodities, supply exceeded demand and others achieved a balance between supply and demand.

The number of TV sets among every 100 households in 1998 is higher than that of the world average figure.

With the gradual improvement of communications and telecommunications and other facilities for living, people's life quality witnessed a marked improvement.

The per capita food consumption expenses of residents dropped continuously. The "Engel's Coefficient," which indicates the ratio between the expenses of food and other items of consumption, dropped from 59.5 percent in 1978 to 46.4 percent in 1997 and that of rural residents went down to 55 percent.

According to statistics, comprehensive calculation in terms of economic development, living standards, quality of the population and quality of people's cultural life and living environment showed that by 1997, 86.52 percent of the Chinese had reached the preliminary standards of a comfortable living.

This indicated that the living standards of Chinese people have exceeded the level of having adequate food and clothing, and is approaching the standards of a comfortable living.

In 1998, China is continuing its tremendous efforts on the protection and promotion of people's rights to subsistence and development.

China was hit in 1998 by rare catastrophic floods. Those hit by floods were over 200 million people and the direct economic losses topped 200 billion yuan.

During the fight against the floods, the Chinese government always gave top priority to ensuring the safety of people's lives in the flood-hit areas.

The government mobilized people all over the country to take every possible effort to ensure that people in the flood-hit areas had food to eat, clothes to wear, clean water to drink, proper accommodation and access to doctors.

All these provided proper arrangements for people in the flood-hit areas and the measures minimized losses of life and property.

The Chinese government also took effective measures to seriously organize rebuilding projects in the floods-hit areas and ensured that no major epidemic diseases prevailed.

It also guaranteed that people in the flood-hit areas spent the winter safely and ensured a smooth rebuilding of their homeland and resumption of their normal life and production.

The year 1998 witnessed the further spreading of the Asian financial crisis which serious harmed the economic profits of many Asian and Latin American countries and resulted in the deterioration of the living conditions of hundreds of millions of people and had a deep impact on China's economic development.

The Chinese government positively responded to the Asian financial crisis, successfully protected the country from the effects of the crisis, achieved relatively rapid growth of the economy and people's living standards have further improved.

In 1998, the GDP rose by 7.8 percent over the previous year, the per capita income of the rural residents was 4.3 percent up over the previous year in real terms and per capita disposable income of urban residents increased by 5.8 percent in real terms.

At the same time, China encountered pressure and endured great economic losses because many neighboring countries devalued their currencies by a large margin. But China has been maintaining it would not devalue the Renminbi and has been making every possible effort to help certain countries.

China made its own contributions to maintaining stability of the world economy and reducing the harmful impact of the financial crisis on people's subsistence and development conditions, winning universal praise from countries worldwide.

While seeking universal improvement of people's overall living standards, China has been paying great attention to meeting the poverty-stricken people's basic need for food and clothing.

With the common efforts made by the government and all walks of life, another eight million rural poverty-stricken people met their basic need for food and clothing in 1998.

The country's total poverty-stricken population dropped from 250 million in 1978 to 42 million at present.

China has witnessed the quickest decrease in its poverty-stricken population more than any other country and in sharp contrast, there are still 1.3 billion poverty-stricken population in the world and the figure is increasing at an annual rate of 25 million.

With the improvement of people's living standards and living environment, people's health conditions also marked a great improvement.

Statistics indicated that the death rate of people in China has dropped from 33 per thousand before the founding of the People's Republic of China 50 years ago to the present 5.5 per thousand.

At the same time, the life expectancy of the Chinese people has gone up from 35 years old 50 years ago to 70.83 years old at present.

The latest figure is 10 years elder than the average index in developing countries and reached the level in intermediate developed countries.

II. Guarantee of Citizens' Political Rights While promoting people's rights of subsistence and development, China pays great attention to the building of a democratic and legal system, and the guarantee of citizens' political rights according to law.

In China all power belongs to the people, who exercise state power through the National People's Congress (NPC) and people's congresses at all levels.

The deputies to people's congresses at all levels and the members of people's congress standing committees are all democratically elected, responsible for people and subject to people's supervision. They are from all ethnic groups and all walks of life, with a wide representation.

A total of 2,979 deputies were elected early in 1998 to the Ninth National People's Congress, of which workers and farmers accounted for 18.9 percent, intellectuals 21.08 percent, government officials 33.17 percent, non-Communist parties' members and people without party affiliation 15.44 percent, men of People's Liberation Army (PLA) 9 percent, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) 1.17 percent, and returned overseas Chinese 1.24 percent.

As the supreme state power organ, the NPC decides fundamental state policies and principles, and formulates national laws.

In 1998, the First Session of the Ninth NPC heard and deliberated work reports from the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; and examined and approved the Plan for National Economic and Social Development, as well as the financial budgets. It also elected and decided the new leadership of the state.

The Ninth NPC and its Standing Committee have deliberated and adopted 24 laws and decisions concerning legal issues over the past one year and more. In March 1999, in particular, the Second Session of the Ninth NPC made amendments to the Constitution by adding "implementing the principle of governing the country according to law and making it a socialist country based on the rule of law".

The elevation of "governing the country according to law," which is a basic principle in administering state affairs, into a constitutional principle, is of great significance to the building of a democratic and legal system and to the guaranteeing of human rights according to law.

The legislation work has become more democratic. In 1998, the NPC Standing Committee made public the draft amendments to Land Administration Law, the drafts to the Organic Law of Villagers' Committees and the Contract Law and received opinions and suggestions from all walks of life. Members of the NPC Standing Committee toured the country to solicit opinions and suggestions about the formulation and revision of many law drafts.

The NPC and its standing committee have remarkably intensified their supervision upon implementation of laws. In the 1993-1997 period, the Standing Committee of the Eighth NPC inspected the implementation of 23 laws and decisions concerning legal affairs, including the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests and Labor Law.

In 1998, the Standing Committee of the Ninth NPC organized six groups and inspected implementation of six laws and decisions concerning legal affairs including the Agriculture Law. And various special committees inspected the implementation of eight laws, including the law on the autonomy of ethnic minority regions. The inspections have effectively prompted the implementation of those laws.

People's deputies have been more enthusiastic in exercising state power. During the First Session of the Ninth NPC in 1998, deputies put forward 830 proposals, a record number; and put forward 2,782 suggestions, criticism and opinions, with replies having been made to each of them by relevant government departments.

At the Second Session of the Ninth NPC in 1999, people's deputies put forward 759 motions, of which 60 percent are related to legislation, again a record number, which demonstrated the increased awareness of the deputies of the importance of governing the country according to law.

The NPC Standing Committee also deals with complaint and advice letters and visits from the people. In 1998, the NPC Standing Committee received more than 60,000 letters, met over 11,000 ordinary citizens and urged relevant departments to conclude a number of important cases and solve actual problems and difficulties for the people.

The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Chinese Communist Party is an important component of China's democratic and political system.

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), comprising of non-Communist parties, people's groups and those without party affiliation, has a wide representation.

The 2,196 members of the 9th National Committee of the CPPCC come from 34 sectors, of which non-Communist party members account for 60.1 percent, and members of China's eight non-Communist parties account for 29.7 percent.

Various non-Communist parties and the CPPCC are now playing an increasingly important role in political consultation, democratic supervision and the participation in and deliberation of state affairs.

In the 1993-1998 period, the CPC Central Committee sponsored 62 various forms of activities consulting with CPPCC members who represent non-Communist parties, people's groups and different ethnic groups and different sectors on the state policies, principles, candidates of state leaders as well as all important policies, laws and regulations.

Statistics show that nearly 200 non-Communist party members are now acting as prefecture-level officials in China's provincial governments and more than 6,000 non-Communist party members are working in prefecture-level city governments and departments of provinces as division chiefs.

In the 1993-1997 period, the CPPCC National Committee put forward more than 100 important proposals, in the fields of politics, economy, social and cultural life of the country, to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

In 1998, the National Committee members of the CPPCC submitted many suggestions and opinions to the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on such important issues as the re-employment of laid-off workers from state-owned enterprises, rejuvenating the nation through science and technology, and protecting farmers' right of land use.

The National Committee of the CPPCC also organized 51 special investigations on such topics as education and poverty-relief work in ethnic minority regions and state-owned enterprise reform, as well as the development of environment-friendly industries, and produced 45 special investigation reports.

Meanwhile, the CPPCC National Committee intensified efforts to handle motions and managed to reflect the real situation of the country and genuine opinions of the people.

Since the First Session of the 9th National Committee of the CPPCC, various non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, people's groups and the CPPCC National Committee members have put forward 3,041 proposals and put on file 2,664 cases, which were all sent to relevant government departments and institutes for further investigation and solution.

China has made eye-catching progress in promoting democracy in grass-roots units in rural areas. Villages across the country continue to conduct rural grass-roots mass self-management activities that focus on villagers' committee' democratic elections, democratic policy-making, democratic management and democratic supervision.

The director, deputy directors and members of the villagers' committee are all directly elected by eligible voters in a village through a secret and competitive election, and they can be removed from their posts if they do not perform well.

All major village affairs in connection with villagers' rights and interests, such as land-contracting plans and land for building houses, are all submitted to the villagers' committee for deliberation and approval.

The routine affairs of the village are democratically administered through villagers' meetings and governed by villager self-management regulations and village regulations in a democratic form, and the villagers conduct democratic supervision upon the work of villagers' committee and matters concerning villagers' interests through village's budget records and other important information made public by the committee.

By the end of 1997, more than 900,000 village committees had been elected, with a total of 3.788 million villagers' committee cadres now in place across the country.

To date, the system of villagers' self-management has been established in a preliminary fashion in 60 percent of China's villages. Villagers' committees have generally conducted three to four elections, with the participation rate of eligible voters standing at over 90 percent.

The practice of open and transparent village affairs has been established in most of China's villages, and in 11 provinces and cities including Hebei, Sichuan, Yunnan, Shanxi and Tianjin, such practice has been introduced in more than 90 percent of villages.

In November 1998, the NPC Standing Committee adopted the newly revised Organic Law on Villagers' Committee, which is aimed at perfecting the system of villagers' autonomy, promoting the building of grass-roots democracy in rural China, and providing a firm legal guarantee for the masses to directly exercise democratic rights.

III. Judicial Guarantee for Human Rights

Since 1979, the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee have promulgated 351 laws and decisions concerning legal issues; the State Council has formulated over 800 administrative regulations and ordinances; and local people's congresses and their standing committees have adopted more than 6,000 local laws and regulations. A relatively systematic legal establishment now provides fundamental legal guarantees for various aspects of social life and human rights of citizens.

China cracks down on criminal offenses in accordance with law, and guarantees the safety of the livelihood and property of its citizens, as well as various other aspects of human rights.

Public security and judicial departments have consistently cracked down on serious violent crimes such as homicides, robberies, rape and the illegal use of explosives.

People's courts across China handled some 480,000 cases of the first instance and sentenced more than 530,000 criminals in 1998.

In addition to investigating and punishing crimes and protecting the rights of victims according to law, judicial departments have also paid close attention to safeguarding the legal rights of defendants and criminal suspects in terms of legal aid, defense, applications for withdrawal of judicial personnel, appeals, charges against infringements of legal rights and obtaining compensation.

Various courts in the past year concluded 1,431 cases of state compensation in strict accordance with the State Indemnity Law and ensured the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

China has rigorously enforced the letter of the law and strengthened human rights protection efforts in every aspect of law enforcement.

Courts and procuratorates nationwide launched and intensified education movement last year in an effort to combat judicial corruption, and ensure justice and the legitimate rights and interests of litigants.

The initiative of law enforcement departments to act in accordance with the law has been comprehensively enhanced, a number of misjudged cases have been corrected, and violations of the law and discipline on the part of judicial personnel have been seriously investigated and corrected. Rules and the overall system for rigorous enforcement of the law in a civil manner have been adopted, as well as a mechanism providing checks and balances on the judiciary.

Statistics show that last year courts across the country reexamined 4.56 million closed cases, with misjudgments cited for some 12,000 cases. Over 11,600 have been corrected. A total of 2, 512 legal or disciplinary violations on the part of judges and court officials were dealt with during 1998, with some 221 officials prosecuted.

Procuratorial departments reexamined 477,000 cases and rectified 3,773 mishandled cases in 1998. Related departments granted compensations for 161 litigants involved in mishandled criminal cases. Related departments redressed excessive periods of detention for 729 criminal suspects.

A total of 1,641 prosecutors suspected of violations of law and breaches of disciplines were investigated. Some 1,550 have been settled, with 116 people prosecuted.

In 1998, courts at all levels extended great efforts to promote open trials and intensify social and media supervision over court proceedings. Open trials were conducted in all first instance cases, with the exception case the law defines as inappropriate for a public hearing. In terms of second instance cases, courts adopted open trials and related verdicts or rulings were announced publicly.

Trials of various major cases were televised or broadcast live. The general public has voiced total support for 11 higher people's courts and 58 intermediate courts which have permitted televised cases.

The Supreme People's Court issued its "Regulations on Strictly Enforcing the Open Trial System" in March 1999. The regulations contain stringent standards for the scope of trials open to the public. The regulations specifically stipulate that all proceedings and aspects of trial-related activities must be open to the public. They also provide for relevant mechanisms which guarantee implementation of the open trial system.

Procuratorial departments have accelerated efforts to supervise law enforcement and have focused on problems involving lawsuits, including failures to file criminal cases, failure to file charges against individuals suspected of criminal offenses and various other forms of judiciary injustice.

In 1998, procuratorates issued 71,000 corrected opinions on excessive detention periods for criminal suspects, and 9,964 corrected opinions on illegal detentions by police.

Procurators challenged 3,791 criminal judgments which they deemed to be incorrect, and issued corrected opinions concerning 1, 211 cases involving irregularities in the judicial process, as well as 9,672 cases involving irregularities by relevant departments in terms of commutations, paroles, temporary decisions allowing individuals to serve sentences outside prison under surveillance, and prisoners released on bail for medical treatment.

Procuratorates fulfilled their supervisory role in civil and administrative cases by focusing on civil, economic and administrative judgments, as well as wrongful rulings. Related departments examined 26,158 appeals and challenged court verdicts for 8,438 cases.

In addition to handling crimes related to official duties, procuratorates investigated and prosecuted 7,067 judicial personnel and law enforcement administrative personnel involved in 5,811 cases of bribery and abuse of power. They also handled 1,467 crime cases related to illegal custody, forced confessions, retaliation or frame-ups in an effort to protect the legitimate rights of citizens according to law.

China's contingent of lawyers has grown rapidly, and has emerged as a major force which safeguards the legitimate rights and interests of citizens.

The number of law firms jumped from 79 in 1979 to 8,600 at the end of 1998, with the number of lawyers soaring from a mere 212 to more than 100,000.

By the end of March 1999, 79 foreign law firms (including 27 from the United States) and 26 law firms from Hong Kong had opened offices in China.

Chinese lawyers handled over two million criminal, 1.21 million civil and 1.5 million economic lawsuits, as well as 2.06 million legal investigation cases between 1993 and 1997. Chinese lawyers currently serve as consultants for 250,000 government institutions and enterprises.

The national legal aid system is playing an ever increasing role in improving the country's legal system, protecting the rights and interests of citizens and ensuring that justice is served.

The establishment of the Legal Aid Foundation of China and Legal Aid Center under the Ministry of Justice in May 1997 marked a substantial step of the nation's effort to establish and implement the legal aid system.

In 1998, more than 500 legal aid institutions nationwide handled over 80,000 legal aid cases, offered legal consultations to more than one million people, making tremendous contributions to guaranteeing that Chinese citizens facing economic difficulties protect their rights and interests on an equal footing.

IV. Citizen's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

China attaches great importance to the protection of citizen's labor and social security rights. In order to protect citizen's rights of employment, the state offers employment services and directions through developing various employment agencies, creates jobs, opens job training classes and adopts many other measures to promote the workers' employment and re-employment.

Over the past two decades, with the economic development, China has created non-agricultural jobs of more than 250 million, and 130 million laborers have been changed from the agricultural to non-agricultural sector.

By the end of 1997, China had established over 34,000 employment agencies. With their help, a total of 8.737 million people found jobs that year. The registered unemployment rate in cities and towns was 3.1 percent in 1998.

A re-employment project aiming to solve the problem of the jobless and the laid-off workers was initiated in 1994, and has been carried out nationwide.

By the end of 1998, all of the state-owned enterprises with laid-off workers had set up re-employment service centers and 99 percent of the laid-off workers had registered with the centers, with 93.2 percent of them receiving living expenses from the centers. With the help of the re-employment project, 10.425 million workers laid off by state-owned enterprises were re-employed in 1997 and 1998.

The state actively promotes the development of job training, exploits workers' job skills and increases their employment capability. There were 4,395 secondary technical training schools in China by the end of 1997, with nearly 1.932 million students and 699,000 graduates that year. At the same time, 1.37 million personnel of various kinds also received training in the schools.

There were also 2,700 employment training centers and over 20, 000 non-government training agencies approved by labor departments at various levels by the end of 1997, with an annual training capacity of about five million.

The state protects laborers' rights to payment, and their income level has been increased gradually on the basis of economic development. In 1997, the total income volume of workers throughout the country was 940.53 billion yuan, up 3.6 percent over the previous year. The per capita annual income of the workers in 1997 was 6,470 yuan, up 4.2 percent than the previous year. If taking into consideration price fluctuations, it rose 1.1 percent in real terms.

In the first half of 1998, workers in China earned a total wage of 446.69 billion yuan, 18.7 billion yuan more than the same period of the previous year, up 4.4 percent in real terms. The per capita monthly salary was 513 yuan, a real increase of six percent on an annual basis.

The state has implemented a minimum wage system. To date, all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities have issued and implemented the lowest standards for wages in their own areas to ensure the minimum wage standard for workers.

To protect the safety and health of workers, the state has promulgated a large number of special laws and regulations, established and improved labor safety and health systems, and strengthened the supervision and examination on labor safety and health.

In recent years, injury and death from accidents in enterprises and the incidence of occupational diseases have dropped. More enterprises have been given approval for their work environment after routine examinations In 1997, the incidence of fatal accidents dropped 12.5 percent over the previous year, with the death toll down 9.8 percent. The number of major accidents decreased by 15.6 percent, and the death toll in serious accidents declined 1.8 percent.

Social security work has witnessed rapid development. By the end of 1998, a unified basic pension system for workers had been basically established throughout the country, and most of the provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities had carried out their own basic pension insurance systems in a unified way.

More than 84 million workers have participated in the pension insurance systems, and 99 percent of the retirees receive their pensions in full amount on time.

By the end of 1998, 79.32 million workers had contributed to unemployment insurance. Up to the end of 1997, 3.964 million workers and 11.15 million retirees had participated in the reform of the medical insurance system. About 11.553 million enterprise workers and 2.668 million retirees had joined in the medical cost social pools for major diseases.

At the same time, 26 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities had implemented social pools for work-related injury insurance and birth insurance, with 35.078 million and 24.859 million enterprise workers participating in the social pools for the two insurance systems respectively.

Social relief and social welfare work has developed steadily. A system to ensure a minimum standard of living for city residents had been established in 600 cities and 1,242 counties by the end of 1998, providing more than 3.32 million people with relief for the minimum standard of living. Welfare institutions cross the country had a total of 1.06 million beds, caring for 800,000 people.

The right of Chinese citizens to receive education has been further protected. The state has increased investment in education, and vigorously created improved educational conditions for citizens.

In 1997, China's total expenditure on education increased by 11.91 percent over the previous year, with the government's budgeted expenditure on education up 11.42 percent.

The state budget expenditure on education accounted for 2.49 percent of the GDP, higher than the previous year. The education funds in the budgets of both central and local governments rose 12.03 percent over the previous year.

In 1998, an additional 360 counties, cities and districts met the demand to make the nine years of compulsory education universal and basically wipe out illiteracy among the young and adults. This meant that the total number of the counties, cities and districts realizing the goal came to 2,242 and covered 73 percent of the total population, compared to 65 percent in 1997.

China wiped out illiteracy in 3.2 million youngsters and adults in 1998, reducing the illiteracy rate among the young and adults to 5.5 percent.

China had 629,000 primary schools nationwide in 1997, and the goal that every child could attend primary school was basically realized. There were 66,000 junior middle schools, and 94 percent of the graduates from primary schools entered junior middle schools.

Half of the graduates from junior middle schools received education in 31,000 senior middle schools. There were more than 2,000 colleges and universities with an enrollment capacity of more than two million. About 45 percent of the graduates from senior middle schools entered colleges and universities.

In 1997, 6.08 million students were studying in colleges and universities, including 180,000 postgraduates, 2.2 times and 9.6 times the figures of 1979 respectively.

The gross enrollment rate of colleges and universities increased to 9.07 percent, higher than the average level of developing countries. According to statistics, 42.5 percent of China's population aged at or above 25 have received secondary education, approaching the level in developed countries including the United States.

V. Legitimate Rights and Interests of Women and Children

Chinese women have been more and more involved in the administration of state and social affairs. There are 650 women deputies to the Ninth National People's Congress, accounting for 21.82 percent of the total, up 0.82 percentage points over the Eighth NPC. There are 341 female members of the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, accounting for 15.5 percent of the total, up 1.54 percentage points over the Eighth National Committee of the CPPCC.

Currently, there are five female state leaders, 18 female ministers and vice-ministers in China. There are women among the provincial level party and government officials in all of 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, which bring the total number of female provincial officials up to 43, an increase of 46.47 percent, compared with five years ago.

By the end of 1997, the number of women cadres in government departments, enterprises and institutions had climbed to 13.838 million, making up 34.3 percent of the total number of cadres in China. The number is eight percent bigger than the figure of 1995.

The number of women employees in China has increased and the proportion of women employed is larger than before. According to a survey of employment conducted by the International Labor Organization in the United States, Russia, India and other 23 countries in 1998, the employment rate of Chinese women reached 56 percent, ranking first among all the other countries.

In 1997, women employees accounted for 46.5 percent of the total number of employed people, up 1.5 percentage points over 1990. The total number of women employees has increased by more than 36 million compared with the figure of 1990.

There were 5.13 million women employees in non-public businesses in 1997, more than six times the figure for 1990 and women employees in such businesses accounted for 47 percent of the total number, compared with 36 percent in 1990. The overall employment rate of female workers is increasing in spite of the increasing number of female laid-off workers which is a result of the structural readjustment of industries and the change in the enterprise operating mechanism.

Women's educational level has been greatly improved. It is estimated that in 1997, the average personal education period for female population above 15 years old stood at 6.41 years, an increase of nearly one year over 1990, and a more rapid growth compared with that of the male education period.

The illiteracy rate amongst female adults dropped from the 31.93 percent in 1990 to 23.20 percent in 1997. The discrepancy between the enrollment rate of boys and girls decreased from the 2.91 percentage points in 1990 to 0.21 percentage points in 1997. By the end of 1997, there were more than 1.18 million female undergraduate students and more than 50,000 female graduate students, which accounted for 36 percent and 30 percent respectively of the total.

The proportions of female students in primary and middle schools have increased from 41.5 percent and 44.9 percent respectively in 1978 to 45.5 percent and 47.6 percent respectively in 1997.

By the end of 1998, among the more than 1,000 academicians at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, there were 62 female academicians, or six percent of the total number, higher than that in any other country.

The health of Chinese women has continuously improved. In 1998, there were 3,207 hospitals for women and children, with 42,002 beds.

Health organizations at all levels have built up a health care network for women and children gradually, and a complete series of health services, which include recording the health condition of women in early pregnancy, ante-natal examinations, medi-care for pregnant women in critical cases, child delivery in hospital and visits after delivery, have been set up to guarantee safe births.

In 1997, 63.5 percent of pregnant women delivered children at hospital, and the mortality of pregnant women and women in labor was 63.6 per 100,000, a one-third decrease from the figure of 1990.

The average life expectancy of women has risen from 36.7 years before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 to 73.2 years in 1997, 4.5 years longer than that of male Chinese, and eight years longer than that of women by the year 2000 estimated by the United Nations.

The rights of children are protected in accordance with the law. In 1997, there were 183,000 kindergartens in China, with 25.19 million children. The gross enrollment rate of kindergarten children is above 40 percent, and the enrollment rate of children at school age reached 98.9 percent, up 1.1 percentage points from the figure of 1990.

In 1998, Project Hope helped 251,800 school dropouts and built 1,855 primary schools, while aiding 53,907 children from poor families.

During the nine years since it was initiated, Project Hope has received domestic and overseas donations in cash totaling 1.611 billion yuan (about 194 million U.S. dollars), and has aided over two million school dropouts, and helped build 7,111 primary schools.

To settle the problem of the school enrollment of children among the transient population, the then State Education Commission and the Ministry of Public Security issued "Temporary Provisions on Transient Children's Schooling" in 1998, and asked the people's governments which are responsible for the management of the transient population to provide more school opportunities to children, and guarantee a certain period of compulsory education.

In 1997, there were 1,440 special schools for handicapped children across the country, nearby doubling the figure of 1990. The school enrollment of the blind, dead and mentally-retarded children has increased from six percent to 64.3 percent. The number of children in special education schools has increased from 31,000 in 1978 to 341,000 people in 1997. The number of handicapped children who study at ordinary schools totaled 340,600, almost five times the figure of 1990.

The health level of children in China has been remarkably improved. At present, there are 4,730 infant-friendly hospitals across the country.

Statistics show that by the end of 1997, China had achieved or was going to realize 14 out of the 24 goals for the development of children in the world by the year 2000.

The infant mortality rate and the mortality rate of children under five years old stood at 33.1 and 42.3 per thousand respectively. The infant mortality rate has dropped 40.9 per thousand from the 74 per thousand of 20 years ago and the mortality of children under five years old has also dropped by about one-third.

In 1997, the mortality of children suffering from diarrhea was 141.7 per 100,000, down 67.8 percent from 1991.

Some 3,371 rehabilitation centers have been built across the country, with 4.16 million handicapped people recovering to various degrees within ten years. Among them, 90,000 deaf children have been able to speak, 600,000 children suffering from sequelae of polio have improved their body function through orthopedics.

About 140,000 mentally retarded children have improved their learning ability and ability to take care of themselves, through rehabilitation training.

The State has funded the building of 91 children's welfare institutes in urban areas, which have received more than 20,000 orphans.

China has eliminated the incidence of polio through a planned immunization program. The project of putting iodine in salt and providing iodine pills for more than 90 million pregnant women and infants under two years old has reduced the incidence of the handicapped caused by iodine-deficiency.

China follows the policy that all ethnic groups are equal and all the ethnic groups enjoy special protection. The people of all the ethnic groups not only enjoy the same rights offered by China's Constitution and laws as the Han nationality, but also enjoy the special rights specially designed for the ethnic groups.

The ethnic groups enjoy the rights to participate in administrating the affairs of the country and of their own groups. All the 55 ethnic groups have their deputies to the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) and members in the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The ethnic groups, with their aggregated population accounting for 8.98 percent of the total of China, have 428 NPC deputies, or 14.37 percent of the total NPC deputies, and have 257 CPPCC members, or 11.7 percent of the total CPPCC members.

China institutes a system of regional autonomy in areas inhabited by ethnic groups. Sixty-three more areas have become autonomous in China since 1978.

Today, China has five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures, 120 autonomous counties or banners, and more than 1,200 townships of various ethnic groups.

Among China's 55 ethnic minority groups, 45 have set up autonomous areas of their own. The population of ethnic minority groups in different autonomous areas makes up 75 percent of the whole population of China's ethnic minorities.

The system of regional ethnic autonomy has granted all ethnic minority groups the right to fully govern the affairs of the autonomous areas and local ethnic groups.

According to the Law on Regional National Autonomy, the chairman or vice-chairman of the standing committee of local people's congress of the autonomous areas are invariably citizens of the ethnic group that exercises regional autonomy.

Governors of all autonomous regions, and heads of an autonomous prefecture and autonomous county should all be citizens of the ethnic group that exercises regional autonomy.

Other members of the people's government of an autonomous region are also to be made up, as far as conditions permit, by citizens of the ethnic group that exercises regional autonomy and citizens of other ethnic minority groups in that area.

Officials with ethnic minority background account for 2.5 million in China today. In 1998, Tibetan officials made up of 74.9 percent of all officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

By offering policy preferences as well as support in funds, technologies and skilled professionals, the central government has promoted economic development and social progress, and improved the living standard of local people in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.

Statistics show that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the regions mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities across the country increased to 708.7 billion yuan (about 85 billion U.S. dollars) in 1997 from 1978's 32.4 billion yuan (about 3.9 billion U.S. dollars), a 21-fold increase and an annual growth rate of 10.9 percent which was even 1.1 percentage points higher than the national average.

The 1997's GDP per capita of these regions, 15 times more than that of 1978, increased to 4,053 yuan (about 488.3 U.S. dollars) from 247 yuan (about 29.8 U.S. dollars). The net annual income of farmers there increased by more than 11 times to 1,482 yuan (about 178.6 U.S. dollars) in 1997 from 1978's 120 yuan (about 14.5 U.S. dollars). The disposable income of urban residents grew by nearly 12 times to 4,818 yuan (about 580.5 U.S. dollars) in 1997 from 1978's 375 yuan (about 45.2 U.S. dollars).

In recent years, the fixed financial subsidies to the Tibet Autonomous Region by the central government surpassed 1.2 billion yuan (about 144.6 million U.S. dollars) each year. The central government invested more than 40 billion yuan in Tibet from the 1950s to 1997. Meanwhile a great amount of goods and materials were transported to Tibet.

In 1984 nine provinces and municipalities aided Tibet by undertaking 43 construction projects. The central government and various regions across the country again in 1994 provided free aid to Tibet for 62 projects with a total investment of four billion yuan (about 482 million U.S. dollars). To date construction of 60 of the 62 projects has been completed.

The aid and support from the rest of the country has greatly accelerated economic development in Tibet and remarkably improved the life of local people.

According to statistics, the economy of Tibet has been developing at an annual growth rate of 12.9 percent over the past five consecutive years. And the economic growth rate of Tibet has surpassed that of the national average for two successive years.

Local farmers and herdsmen's annual income reached 1,150 yuan (about 139 U.S. dollars) on average in 1998. The living expense income per capita of urban residents that year surpassed for the first time the national average to reach 5,130 yuan (about 618 U.S. dollars).

The average floor space one Tibet urban resident occupies was 14 square meters, almost five square meters more than that of the national average. The figure was more than 20 square meters in rural areas of Tibet, about the same as that in other rural areas across the country.

The population of Tibet grew to more than 2.4 million in 1998 from some one million before the democratic reform of Tibet four decades ago. And the average life expectancy was extended by 30 years.

The ethnic minorities' right to education and culture has been guaranteed. The number of ethnic teachers increased to 833,200 in 1997 compared with 433,000 in 1978; the number of ethnic students enrolled in schools at different levels increased from 10.248 million to more than 29 million. The proportion of ethnic students is, respectively, 6.8 percent in colleges, 6.7 percent in middle schools and 8.9 percent in primary schools; 97.6 percent of school-age children attend primary schools in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and 7 other major ethnic minority provinces and regions.

Fifty-five ethnic minorities have their own college graduates and the number of college students per 10,000 persons of more than 10 ethnic minorities has gone beyond the national average. In old Tibet, there were no schools in modern sense and the illiteracy rate was as high as 97 percent.

By 1998, 4,365 schools at all levels had been set up in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the illiteracy rate dropped by 47 percentage points. The literacy rate in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is now above 96 percent, 2 percentage points above the national average.

China emphasizes the protection of the freedom of ethnic minorities for their traditional cultures and their freedom in religious beliefs. In China, ethnic minority freedom is guaranteed by law to use and develop their both spoken and written languages, to preserve or reform their customs, and to believe in religions as they wish. Statistics show that bilingual education in Chinese and other ethnic languages is practiced in more than 10,000 schools at all levels and in more than 60 ethnic languages.

There is also bilingual education in middle schools and primary schools in Tibet, and departments or classes of Tibetan language have been established in colleges and vocational schools in Tibet.


The fine Tibetan traditional culture has been carried forward and developed. Currently there are over 50 research institutes nationwide studying Tibetan culture involving thousands of researchers.

The work to systematically investigate, collect, compile and publish the traditional cultural heritage of Tibet on a large scale is continuing.

Abundant traditional Tibetan classics have been compiled and preserved. The Tibetan People's Publishing House has compiled and published classics covering Buddhist scripture, Tibetan pharmacology, the Tibetan calendar, history, biography and literature, etc.

The Tibetan Library alone has collected and compiled over 100, 000 volumes of Tibetan classics. The Tibet Autonomous Regional Government has set up a specific bureau to compile the Tibetan epic King Gesar and over 50 million words have been compiled and more than 30 books have been published on this epic.

Large numbers of rare cultural relics have been put under full protection. After the maintenance project of the Potala Palace, the regional government allocated 26 million yuan to complete a similar project at the Gandan Palace in October 1997.

The health care conditions for ethnic minorities have been greatly improved. A basic medical and public health network now covers the whole of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

By the end of 1997, there had been in Tibet 1,324 medical and health establishments, 6,246 hospital beds, averaging some 2.5 beds per 1,000 people; and 10,929 medical professionals with 1.84 doctors per 1,000 people.

The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has now 476 medical and health establishments, averaging 5.15 doctors per 1,000 people, and the average medical expense is 19.51 yuan per person, with a growth rate respectively of 51.59 percent, 213.41 percent and 2,923.14 percent as compared with the figures of 1957. The lack of medicine in poor rural areas has been totally eradicated.

VII. Foreign Exchange and Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

China consistently respects universal principles of the international community on human rights, advocating to hold dialogues and cooperation among countries in terms of human rights.

1998 was the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In January 1998, Chinese President Jiang Zemin wrote a letter to UN. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, expressing that the Chinese Government fully supports the international community to commemorate the programmatic document in the sphere of human rights, reviewed and summed up activities and work done in the field, and looked forward to the future.

On December 10, 1998, President Jiang wrote a letter to a commemorative meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was hosted by the China Society for Human Rights Studies.

President Jiang highly valued the position and role of the important document, saying that the Chinese people, together with the international community, will make their own contribution to a just, reasonable, peaceful and prosperous world.

In October 1998, China hosted the first international symposium on World Human Rights Toward the 21st Century. Nearly 100 experts and scholars from 26 countries invited to the symposium summed up the practices and experiences in international human rights since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. They also studied the opportunities and challenges in the field of international human rights and discussed the prospects of the cross-century development of human rights in the world.

They summed up the practice and experience in the field of human rights protection in the world in the 50 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, studied opportunities and challenges the international community is facing now, and inquired into the development perspective of international human rights in the coming next century.

The Vice-Premier of the State Council Qian Qichen was invited to speak at the symposium. Qian expounded the principled stand held by the Chinese Government for promoting international human rights.

As for part of the activities marking the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights, the Chinese academic and research circles also organized a series of other symposiums.

In addition, China Central Radio Station in December broadcast various programs on human rights progress, popularizing the knowledge of human rights.

The Chinese Government always attaches great importance of international human rights covenants, which are regarded as playing an active role in promoting the progress of human rights.

China has so far signed a total of 17 international covenants on human rights and taken various measures to conscientiously implement the covenants which China has joined. On this basis, it signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in October 1997 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in October 1998.

China is now deliberating the covenants in accordance with the Constitution and concerned laws.

In accordance with the Joint Declaration between China and Britain on the Question of Hong Kong and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, the relevant provisions in the two covenants applicable to Hong Kong continue to be effective in the region and will be implemented through laws in the HKSAR.

In November 1997, the Chinese Government decided to transmit to the United Nations reports by its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, thus making the relevant institutions involving the covenants and the international community better aware of the human rights conditions in the HKSAR.

China has actively cooperated with the United Nations in the field of human rights. In September 1998, the Chinese Government invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to visit China. The two sides extensively exchanged their views on human rights issues and signed a Memorandum of Intent on a technical cooperation program.

In 1999, China invited a concerned expert group from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit China. The expert group conducted friendly exchanges and extensively discussed issues on consultation and technological cooperation in the field of human rights and exchanged views with relevant Chinese government departments, non-governmental organizations and relevant local government departments.

In recent years, the Chinese Government has invited the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance in 1994 and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 1996 to the country.

In the near future, China plans to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to come for a visit.

China always advocates dialogues and opposes confrontations in the field of human rights. For the past several years, China has conducted dialogues and cooperation in the field of human rights with many foreign countries. Chinese leaders have extensively discussed and exchanged views in the field during their meetings with foreign heads of state and government, as well as concerned personages from foreign countries.

In 1997, President Jiang Zemin paid a successful state visit to the United States. In the Joint Statement between China and the United States, the two sides are determined to build toward a constructive strategic partnership.

They agree that while China and the United States have areas of disagreement on human rights issues, they should carry out governmental and non-governmental dialogues on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

When visiting China in 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton met Chinese President Jiang Zemin and held candid talks on human rights issues. The two presidents reiterated the common ground announced in the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement.

In 1998, the European Union and the United States gave up anti-China proposals in the 54th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights held in Geneva, pushing forward the dialogues and cooperation between China and other countries.

After that, China held governmental and non-governmental talks on human rights issues with Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Japan, the United States and the European Union.

The bilateral and multi-lateral talks between them stimulated extensive exchanges and cooperation, improved mutual understanding and made great achievements.

The same as the rest of the world, China has many problems which should be solved in the field of human rights. The Chinese Government is willing to learn from other countries useful experience in promoting the development of human rights.

China will persistently accelerate the progress in human rights in the country. Meanwhile, it will actively push forward the healthy development in international human rights progress through dialogues and cooperation.

-End-

 


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