BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Friday that its people enjoy the highest level of political and civil rights on record today, in a report released just days after the European Union and the United States expressed their extreme concern over the deterioration of human rights in China.
For the past five years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has presided over what human rights groups denounce as an increased crackdown on human rights activists and lawyers in the country, with dozens arrests and hundreds of detainees.
Ahead of Human Rights Day last Sunday, the European Union and the United States issued statements saying they were “extremely concerned” about a deterioration of human rights in China, citing measures such as restrictions on the Internet and detentions of lawyers.
“Chinese citizens have never enjoyed so many economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as they do today,” the State Council, the Chinese cabinet, said in an annual white paper.
The newspaper heralded a new era in which greater legal protection guarantees human rights in China, citing the recent establishment by the ruling Communist Party of a central leadership group to guide legal reform as evidence.
A human rights group says the lack of an independent judiciary to control the ruling party leads to rights abuses.
China dismisses criticisms of its human rights record, saying critics place too much emphasis on political and civil rights, without recognizing the social and economic freedoms offered to its citizens.
Diplomats in liberal democracies say the Chinese definition is too broad and ignores aspects like free speech that are central to the accepted definition of human rights used by the United Nations.
China considers its human rights successes to include, for example, using the law to control violations of the health and property rights of its citizens by shutting down polluting businesses, according to the report.
Controversial legislation on espionage, counterintelligence, and internet security, as well as others in a slew of new laws aimed at strengthening China’s national security, are also cited as helping to protect security and human rights. property of citizens.
The newspaper further indicates that China is actively working to promote human rights abroad and build an international legal system to protect them.
As of August 2017, 36,000 Chinese military peacekeepers have been sent overseas to participate in UN peacekeeping operations and now have a standing force of 8,000, according to the newspaper. .
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore