Civil and political rights are important part of human rights. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, only when countries of the world have created conditions for every one to enjoy civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights, can the mankind achieve its goal of full enjoyment of human rights and freedoms. In order to achieve this sacred goal, the Chinese government is, on the one hand, committed to developing the economy and improve the living standards of the Chinese people, and on the other, to promoting and protecting civil and political rights of Chinese citizens and constantly improving China's democratic and legal framework. Great successes have been achieved in this regard as shown in the following aspects:
First, China has continuously worked for establishing the rule of law by improving legislation and enhancing the supervisory role of the people's congresses. Over the past 50 years, the National People's Congress (NPC) of China and its Standing Committee have promulgated over 390 laws and legal decisions; the State Council have formulated over 800 administrative regulations; and the local people's congresses have produced over 8,000 local laws and regulations. China has established by now a fairly comprehensive legal system composed of the Constitution and its related laws as well as seven broad categories of laws, namely, civil and commercial laws, administrative laws, economic laws, social laws, criminal laws, and procedural and non-procedural laws. In the year 2000 alone, the NPC Standing Committee adopted 14 laws and accepted 12 bills. The people's congresses have further enhanced its role of supervision, especially supervision over law enforcement, which constitutes China's major step towards establishing the rule of law. Not long ago, the NPC Standing Committee examined the implementation of the Criminal Procedural Law across the country and put forward a series of recommendations on further improving the work of public security, procuratorial and judicial organs. This has not only supported the administrative and judicial justice, but also supervised the work of the law enforcement institutions. This year, the NPC Standing Committee has placed the drafting of the law of supervision in its legislative agenda. Furthermore, it will carry out supervision over the implementation of the Organizational Law of Village Committees and other laws so as to further improve the efficacy of law enforcement and fully guarantee the rights of Chinese citizens.
Second, China has been engaged in further deepening its legal system reform in order to ensure judicial justice and legal guarantee of human rights. Judicial justice is of paramount importance. A major guarantee of the enjoyment of civil and political rights lies in the just and effective law enforcement. At present, Chinese judicial organs are making great endeavors to further promote judicial justice and unify Chinese legal order, with focus on the theme of enhancing supervision and a just process of law enforcement. The Chinese procuratorial organs are earnestly exercising their supervision over civil and criminal as well as administrative litigation. Last year, they urged public security organs to file 20,809 cases thanks to their supervisory procedures and handled 4,626 cases involving crimes committed by law enforcement personnel. The judicial organs will strictly follow procedural laws and further improve the system of burden of proof and legal assistance procedures so as to ensure that citizens are able to effectively exercise their rights according to the law. Efforts have been made to promote transparency in the court system. Full implementation of the open trial system will be the focus of present work. Court rulings and decisions will be published in the media and on the Internet so as to ensure better supervision by the general public.
Third, freedom of speech is guaranteed by law. It is clearly stated in the Chinese Constitution that citizens enjoy the freedom of speech, publication, gathering, association and demonstrations, and citizens have the right to criticize and give advise to government institutions and their staff. The NPC Standing Committee, all levels of the government and judicial organs have set up special offices receiving and handling letters and visits of complaints over the work of the government. The media plays an important role in expanding the freedom of speech for citizens. Since the reform started, rapid progress has been witnessed in the Chinese media and publication. The Chinese media enjoys a high degree of openness and freedom. Many newspapers and TV stations run special columns or programs such as In-depth Visits and Interviews and Legal Discussions aimed at exposing social evils and exploring solutions to such evils through legal means. These activities not only provide a forum for the general public but also play a supervisory role in China's political life. The Chinese government has also endeavored to develop the Internet. By now, China's Internet population has reached over 20 million and there are over 27,000 worldwide web-sites and over 70,000 Chinese domain names. The rapid development of the Internet has provided a very good channel for information and public discourse.
Fourth, freedom of religious belief is effectively guaranteed. Respecting and protecting freedom of belief is a long-term policy of the Chinese government. The government always respects and protects the freedom of choice of Chinese citizens over religious belief. This freedom is protected under the Chinese law. This policy of the government has been well received by the general public. As a result, there has been a steady increase of religious believers in China. At present, there are as many as over 100 million believers of Bhuddism, Taoism, Islamism, Catholicism and other Christian religions. China's religious organizations have established relations with their counterparts in over 70 countries. At present, more than 17,000 religious personalities are elected deputies to the people's congress and political consultative conference at various levels, and they are playing a positive role in participating political consultation and decision-making.
Fifth, China strictly prohibits torture and protects the fundamental rights and interests of its citizens. The Chinese government has all along attached importance to the legitimate rights of the detained persons and strictly prohibits any beating, physical punishment or torture and these persons are accorded with humanitarian treatment. All this has been stipulated in the Chinese laws such as the Criminal law, Criminal Procedural Law, Prison Law, People's Police Law, Law on Judges and State Compensation Law. Representatives from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited Chinese prisons and detention centers many times and positively assessed the measures adopted by the Chinese government towards the detainees. China is a state party to the International Convention on the Prohibition of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment. Since China's accession to the Convention, China has earnestly fulfilled its obligations and presented its implementation reports. Last May, the Chinese government presented its third report to the Committee against Torture. The report also included the review of the implementation of the Convention in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Committee fully acknowledged and praised China's progress in implementing the Convention, and it held that China's report was in full conformity with the requests of the Committee and expressed its satisfaction over China's serious and cooperative attitude and detailed replies with high quality.
This year marks the first year of the China's tenth five-year plan for economic and social development. During this period, the Chinese government is determined to continuously implement its strategy of establishing the rule of law and further improve its legal system and further institutionalize many aspects of the work of the government. China's legal reform will be further deepened to ensure strict law enforcement and judicial justice. It will establish a system of checks over the exercise of power and enhance supervision over the operation of power and institutionalize its effort to build a clean government. The implementation of these measures marks the fact that China is entering a new stage in building in full scale a state based on the rule of law, which will have major and positive impact on promoting and protecting civil and political rights of Chinese citizens.
Full enjoyment of human rights is a common ideal cherished by mankind. We are all here today from different parts of the world with a shared goal of exploring how to find an effective approach to achieving all human rights, including civil and political rights, and learning from each other and making up for each other's deficiencies. Yet, regrettably, the United States intends to politicize this sacred forum by making groundless accusations against the human rights record of other countries and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. As a matter of fact, the human rights record of the United States is very disturbing, and there are too many problems to numerate, ranging from spread of handguns to corruption of the legal system and miserable conditions of US prisons. But the US government makes no reference to its own human rights issues while making exclusively groundless charges against other countries. This arrogant approach cannot but poison the atmosphere of the Commission on Human Rights and weaken its role. No justice-upholding countries will ever accept this American approach. My suggestion to the US government is as follows: mind your own business, i.e. the human rights issues faced by your own people, and start with your own country and try to resolve your own human rights problems at home.
Full realization of human rights is a progressive historical process. This is also true with the realization of civil and political rights. In this process, we should pay attention to the equal treatment of the two categories of human rights and the balance between rights and duties. We expect the Commission on Human Rights to play a greater role in this regard and to engage in a constructive manner in discussing how to effectively protect and promote civil and political rights. The Chinese government is ready, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to hold dialogues and exchange views with other countries to learn from each other and achieve common progress.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.