China ready to work with world to push greater fairness, inclusiveness in global human rights governance: Xi
Global South seeks cooperation to enrich human rights contents, not to counterweight West: analysts
Published: Jun 14, 2023 10:07 PM Updated: Jun 15, 2023 10:37 AM
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu delivers a speech at Forum on Global Human Rights Governance in Beijing on May 14. Photo:courtesy of the committee for Forum on Global Human Rights Governance

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu delivers a speech at Forum on Global Human Rights Governance in Beijing on May 14. Photo:courtesy of the committee for Forum on Global Human Rights Governance

China on Wednesday held a Forum on Global Human Rights Governance, with more than 300 scholars, officials and experts of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations from nearly 100 countries sharing their views on how to promote human rights development amid the increasing threat of geopolitical conflicts.

In a congratulatory letter sent to the forum the same day, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that at a time of severe challenges facing the global human rights governance, China stands for safeguarding human rights with security, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

Calling on all countries to follow the path of peaceful development, and putting into action the Global Security Initiative, Xi said China stands for advancing human rights with cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect and equality, putting into action the Global Civilization Initiative, and deepening exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations.

China is ready to work with the rest of the world to act on the principles enshrined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, push for greater fairness, justice, reason, and inclusiveness in global human rights governance, and promote the development of a community with a shared future for mankand, Xi said in the letter. 

The Wednesday forum, themed "Equality, Cooperation and Development: The 30th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and Global Human Rights Governance," was jointly hosted by the Information Office of the State Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and China International Development Cooperation Agency.

This year marks the 30th anniversary for the World Conference on Human Rights which adopted in 1993 the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, a common plan for the strengthening of human rights work around the world. 

For the past decades, the global human rights developments have interwoven with achievements as well as divergences, and it is important for more countries to discuss shared concerns on how to further promote human rights as well as resist increasing threats, especially on weaponizing and politicizing human rights, scholars who attended the forum told the Global Times. 

They also noted that President Xi's congratulatory letter profoundly expounded important propositions on the promotion and protection of human rights, and provided a Chinese solution for promoting global human rights governance.

Platform for cooperation, not confrontations

During the forum, many scholars and officials from developing countries and international institutions praised China's achievements on human rights developments, especially on poverty alleviation and they shared their prospects on how to promote developing countries to be more engaged in global governance. 

China has always spared no effort to promote and protect human rights and it has indeed made remarkable achievements during this process. Its role on the international stage is becoming more and more important, and it has more and more international influence, said Akmal Saidov, first deputy speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oily Majlis of Uzbekistan and director of the National Human Rights Center of Uzbekistan. 

Saidov also noted that the significance of the forum lies in the ideas to promote fairer and better cooperation on the respect to each country's needs in exploring the pattern for human rights that fits them the best. 

More attendees at the Wednesday forum also called for closer cooperation to better promote the global human rights cause. 

Veronica Birga, chief of staff from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also attended the forum on Wednesday and expressed her appreciation for China for hosting the important event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.

Birga said that during this important anniversary year, the world aspires for the two milestone documents ¬- the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - to affirm the unwavering commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of their differences or backgrounds.

She also called on unity to reset understanding, regain trust in the power of human rights and to forge a new worldwide consensus of human rights.

However, regardless of the international community's urgent calling, the US and some Western countries have beefed up their efforts to politicize human rights issues and to use them as weapons to contain developing countries. Their attacks and hypes on topics related to China's Xinjiang,Xizang and the Hong Kong regions in the last few years are one example, said analysts. 

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said at the opening ceremony of the forum that some Western countries, which neglect their own problems on human rights, have been keen on "plying like lecturers" to point fingers on other countries and to contain these countries' development, leading to the politicizing of multilateral platforms and increasing confrontations.

Ma said that such actions should be firmly resisted. There is no one pattern of human rights that can fit all countries in the world, and every country should and can only explore their own way on human rights based on the country's context and people's needs. 

Stephen Brawer, chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, called the US and some Western countries using human rights issues to contain developing countries as bullying, saying that such actions have continued due to the US' financial and strategic power. 

The Swedish expert said the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is the right perspective, and by continuing to promote it, there will be some people in the West who will come to their senses and realize they need to give up the conflict and join in the cooperation.

Forum participant Chang Jian, a professor and director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Nankai University, told the Global Times that the communication on human rights of the Global South is not to counterweight the West. China, like many other developing countries in the world, is a member aiming to promote, enrich and practice the contents on human rights. 

China holds forums on human rights to offer a platform for countries, especially developing countries, to share their own experience on human rights and learn from each other, said Chang, noting that such exchanges will also diversify the global human rights governance.

Chang said the US and the West have acted with selfishness in worrying and hyping that China and other developing countries are working to contend the steering wheel. But in fact, what China and the developing countries are doing is to enrich the global governance on human rights. 

"We always say that we need cooperation, not confrontation, we need to tear down walls, not build more obstacles. The US should not fear the diversification of human rights as the real global leadership is to show inclusiveness, not impose one's own pattern on others," said Chang.