China
Bringing the world a broader understanding of human rights
By Li Wenhan  ·  2024-01-24  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

Visually impaired students fly a kite in Chongqing Municipality on March 31 (XINHUA) 

“The best thing you can contribute to human rights in the world is development and ending poverty,” Benjamin Norton, an independent American journalist and geopolitical analyst, said at a seminar themed Human Rights Development in China in Beijing on January 20. 

He emphasized how China had lifted 800 million people out of extreme poverty as of late 2020 as well as the country’s extensive infrastructure development at the event hosted by the Center for the Americas under China International Communications Group (CICG Americas). 

Norton cited a 1941 speech by then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which he talked about the four freedoms. One of the four freedoms Roosevelt mentioned is the freedom from want. “One of the most important freedoms for human beings is not being in poverty, is having a house, is having food, is having education,” the journalist stressed. 

“That’s why I think China is doing humanity such an important service, by having a broader discussion of human rights and actually saying that human rights include things like access to healthcare, access to education and access to infrastructure,” he said. 

A report released by the University of Chicago in 2023 showed that although the challenge of reducing air pollution around the world may seem daunting, China has achieved remarkable success, having reduced pollution levels by 42.3 percent since 2013, the year before the country embarked on a “war” against pollution. 

Norton further pointed out China, over the course of 40 years, had lifted 800 million people out of poverty as of late 2020, and nearly three quarters of the total reduction in extreme poverty worldwide had occurred in China during the same period, according to the World Bank. “If reducing poverty is not a contribution to human rights, then we’re not actually talking about human rights,” he noted. 

Benjamin Norton speaks at a seminar entitled Human Rights Development in China, hosted by the Center for the Americas under China International Communications Group on January 20 (ZHANG WEI)

“Additionally, China plays a role in fostering global economic opportunities,” he said. 

In 2013, China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to boost connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes, which had been joined by 152 countries and 32 international organizations as of last June. Data released by the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, last September showed that since 2013, some 77,000 China-Europe freight train trips had been made, providing services to 217 cities in 25 European countries. 

Those freight trains transported 7.31 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers of goods worth $340 billion. TEU is an inexact unit of cargo capacity, often used for container ships and container ports. 

Following the BRI, China went on to propose the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Civilizations Initiative (GCI), all contributing to building a community with a shared future for humanity. 

The three initiatives aim to promote world peace, security, development and harmony. The GDI calls for steering global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth. The GSI stresses the importance of upholding a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. The GCI underscores respect for the diversity of civilizations. 

Norton also compared the safety situation of China and the U.S., and pointed out that whereas the latter sees gun proliferation, the former is one of the safest countries on Earth. 

“Women can walk around at night and they’re not going to be afraid of being attacked, people are not afraid of getting shot; whereas in the U.S., guns outnumber human beings. The U.S. has as many as 300-400 shootings every year,” he said. “Isn’t this a violation of human rights?” 

“That's why I think China is doing a very important job on the international stage: allowing us to have a broader understanding of human rights,” he concluded. 

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

Comments to liwenhan@cicgamericas.com

 

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