|China's Progress in Human Rights in 2004|
|Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, April 2005, Beijing|
In that year, China expressly stated in its Constitution that "The state respects and safeguards human rights," further manifesting the essential requirements of the socialist system. The Chinese government pressed forward on promoting administration according to law in an all-round way. It promulgated the document "Outline of Full Implementation for Promoting Administration According to Law," which clearly states that China must basically realize the goal of establishing a government under the rule of law after making sustained efforts for about 10 years. A series of effective measures were adopted to standardize and restrain administrative power, and to safeguard and protect citizens' rights and interests. The Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted the "Decision on Strengthening the Party's Governing Capability," which stresses that state power should be exercised in a scientific and democratic manner within the framework of the law, and that human rights should be respected and protected.
In 2004, China adhered to the scientific view of development by putting people first, and made every effort to build a harmonious society. New progress was achieved in its reform, opening-up and modernization drive. Along with continuous economic growth, more democratic practices were seen in the political arena, and the society progressed in a comprehensive way. Further improvements were made in people's living standards, and China's human rights conditions were continuously improved and developed in all fields.
China is a developing country, and its human rights conditions are in a process of sustained development and perfection. The Chinese government pays special attention to respecting and safeguarding human rights. It will take effective measures to promote the development of human rights and to raise the level of human rights and basic freedom enjoyed by the Chinese people.
To help the international community toward a better understanding of the human rights situation in China, we hereby present an overview of the developments in the field of human rights in China in 2004.
The people's overall living standard and quality of life were improved considerably, and the consumption pattern of the society continued its shift from one of basic living to one of modern living. In 2004, the per-capita net income for rural residents was 2,936 yuan, an increase of 6.8 percent in real terms and the biggest increase since 1997. The per-capita disposable income of urban residents was 9,422 yuan, an increase of 7.7 percent in real terms. Retail sales of consumer goods totaled 5,400 billion yuan, an increase of 13.3 percent. The Engel coefficient (i.e., the proportion of food expenditure in the total consumption spending) per rural and urban household was 47.2 and 37.7 percent, respectively. The number of private cars kept increasing, reaching 6 million at the year's end, making China a market with the quickest increase in the number of private cars in the world. Over the past four years, China has witnessed an addition of 90 million telephone users annually, and in 2004 some 14.5 million new Internet users were recorded in China. At present, there are more than 650 million telephone users and over 94 million Internet users in China.
The state adopts effective measures to increase input into agriculture and spares no pains to increase farmers' incomes and improve their lives. In February 2004, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council jointly promulgated document No. 1, known as "Opinions on Several Policies to Promote Increase of Farmers' Incomes," which explicitly stated that China must adhere to the strategy of comprehensive development of urban and rural areas and the principle of "giving more, taking less, and being flexible," and that it is a basic task to realize, safeguard and develop farmers' material interests and protect their rights and interests. Within a year, the state formulated a series of policies that were well endorsed by the farmers, directly contributing to the increase of their incomes. At the beginning of 2005, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council again promulgated, in the form of document No. 1, "Opinions on Several Policies on Further Strengthening Agricultural Work and Enhancing the Comprehensive Agricultural Productive Capability," deciding to further intensify efforts in implementing the policies of cancellation of special agricultural product tax, reduction or exemption of agricultural tax, providing direct subsidies to grain growing farmers, for quality seeds for four grain crops, and for those who buy large or medium-sized agricultural vehicles or equipment (abbreviated as "two reductions and exemptions" and "three subsidies") so as to further guarantee the rights and interests of the farmers. The state greatly increased its input into agriculture, rural construction and other undertakings that would help increase farmers' incomes. In 2004, the central government appropriated funds worth 262.6 billion yuan for these purposes, an increase of 22.5 percent over the previous year. Statistics show that 11.6 billion yuan was used as direct subsidies for grain growing farmers in major grain-producing areas; 2.8 billion yuan was used as subsidies for quality rice, corn, soybean and wheat seeds; 500 million yuan was allocated as special subsidies to appropriately assist farmers who bought large agricultural vehicles or equipment. Meanwhile, greater efforts were made to reduce or exempt agricultural taxes. In 2004, the amount of agricultural taxes that were reduced or exempted came to 23.3 billion yuan, and 6.8 billion yuan in special agricultural product tax was cancelled. The farmers were relieved of tax burdens, which totaled 30.1 billion yuan. Throughout the country, 150 million farmers no longer pay agricultural tax, the rate of agricultural tax for 540 million farmers was reduced by three percentage points, and the agricultural tax rate was reduced by one percentage point for the rest of the farmers.
The housing conditions and living environment for urban and rural residents have been improved considerably. China actively promotes the development of an urban housing security system, which comprises the system of publicly accumulated housing funds, system of affordable and functional housing, and the system of low-rent housing. By the end of 2004, the low-rent housing system for minimum-income families was established in 35 large and medium-sized cities. By the end of 2003, the per-capita living space in cities and towns reached 23.7 sq m, and it was 27.2 sq m in rural areas. Families and communities began to realize the importance of environmental protection, and the people's living environment was further improved.
The Chinese government continues to take effective measures to help the rural poor shake off poverty. In 2004, the central government earmarked 12.2 billion yuan as funds to aid the poor. By adopting effective measures such as improving production and living conditions in the poor areas, and enhancing the comprehensive quality of poor rural farmers, the government has greatly reduced the number of poor farmers without adequate food and clothing throughout the country. The population of poor farmers in the countryside was 2.9 million fewer than in the previous year. The International Aid-the-Poor Conference convened in Shanghai in May 2004 spoke highly of the achievements China had made in helping the poor, declaring, "The achievements China has made in helping the poor is a good example. It has proved that it is not an unreachable goal for mankind to eliminate poverty. The example of China will reverse the pessimistic sentiment surrounding the argument on poverty elimination."
The Chinese government considers the safety of life of the people above everything else. In recent years, the state has taken a series of measures to enhance production safety and check the occurrence of all sorts of accidents. In 2004, the state promulgated one administrative law, 15 departmental regulations, five industrial standards on production safety and more than 70 regulatory documents to tackle the problem of industrial hazards. Small coal mines and other industrial enterprises which did not meet the requirements for production safety were resolutely shut down. The total number of accidents of the whole year somewhat decreased. The number of accidents and deaths throughout the country were reduced by 16.22 and 0.23 percent, respectively, compared with the previous year. The state made great efforts to guarantee safety in coal mines, including preventing gas explosions. It strengthened the establishment of safety production systems and mechanisms and exerted concentrated efforts to tackle gas-related accidents in coal mines. As a result, the number of gas-related accidents in coal mines dropped by 15.6 percent, and that of deaths by 7.8 percent.
The state attaches great importance to combating natural disasters and carrying out related relief work, making sure that people hit by natural disasters are able to subsist. In 2004, natural disasters caused great damage throughout China. Serious flooding occurred in some medium and small river basins, coastal areas in Zhejiang Province were devastated by the strongest typhoon since 1956, and in some regions mountain torrents, mud-rock flows and landslides happened frequently. Because the government had improved its early-warning systems, exercised scientific command and effective administration, people in the disaster-stricken areas were evacuated and resettled promptly, and the injured received timely treatment. The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance jointly appropriated 4 billion yuan in relief funds, plus 4.89 million yuan in donated funds, and dispatched 31,000 tents to the disaster-stricken areas. The government helped evacuate and resettle 6.11 million disaster victims, and rebuilt more than 1.4 million houses that had been destroyed in the disasters. During the spring and winter of 2004, when crops were not harvested, some 90 million people received relief aid, and their fundamental needs for food, clothing, lodging, water and medical treatment were met.
The state continues to provide special aid to minimum-income urban families whose members either suffer from critical illness or are seriously handicapped and without any financial income. To carry out the "Measures for Assisting and Managing Urban Vagrants and Beggars with No Means of Livelihood," in 2004 a total of 550,000 vagrants and beggars received much-needed assistance from the government. Now there are 909 assistance and management centers across the country and 130 assistance and protection centers for vagrant children. A system of guaranteeing the minimum standard of living for rural residents has been established in 1,206 counties (cities), with 4,960,000 beneficiaries.
China attaches great importance to the health conditions of the people. The national public medical care network has been strengthened further. In 2004, China had 296,000 health care institutions, 3,047,000 hospital and clinic beds, 4,390,000 medical personnel, and 3,586 disease prevention and control centers (including anti-epidemic stations) with 160,000 medical personnel. Moreover, there were 1,279 health care supervision and examination institutions with 26,000 medical personnel, and 42,000 township clinics with 669,000 beds and 881,000 medical personnel. A new rural cooperative medical service system has been tried out in 333 counties (cities) across the country. It covers about 100 million rural residents so far, including 80.4 million farmers.
The state has strengthened its overall supervision over food and drugs. It cracks down heavily on such illegal and criminal acts as the manufacture and sale of counterfeit and inferior foodstuffs and drugs, and poisonous and harmful foodstuffs in order to ensure the safety of consumers. Meanwhile, it has adopted effective measures to prevent, treat and control serious epidemics. It quickly brought under control and eventually eliminated the SARS epidemic that occurred in Guangdong, Beijing and part of Anhui Province. The State Council has issued the "Notice on Enhancing the Prevention and Treatment of AIDS." A working committee on the prevention and treatment of AIDS was set up, and a national conference on the prevention and treatment of AIDS was held. The state has provided free anti-AIDS medicine to patients among farmers and to other patients in straitened circumstances. In AIDS-prevalent areas, people receive anonymous examinations free of charge, and pregnant women with the HIV virus receive free medical screening to prevent them from spreading the virus to their babies. Orphans of AIDS patients are exempted from paying school fees, and financial support is given to needy AIDS patients. President Hu Jintao has visited AIDS patients in hospitals, showing that the state attaches great importance to the prevention and treatment of AIDS and that it cares about AIDS patients.
To ensure the people's health and safety, and to protect their interests and right to enjoy a wholesome environment, the state revised the "Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste," issued the "Measures on the Licensed Management of Dangerous Waste," "Measures Regarding Administrative Penalties for and Management of Medical Waste" and the "National Plan for the Construction of Installations for the Disposal of Dangerous and Medical Waste." In order to ensure the people's health and protect the environment, the government launched a special campaign to rectify and punish enterprises which illegally discharged pollution. In the campaign, it dealt with 3,365 severe cases of environmental pollution that seriously harmed people's rights and interests, and closed down 6,462 enterprises that seriously polluted the environment. With this effective crackdown, the environmental quality of some areas was improved noticeably.
At present, the general health of the Chinese people is better than that of the average level of middle-income countries, and ranks among the top of the developing countries in this respect. The average life expectancy has increased from 35 years before the birth of New China in 1949 to the present 71.4 years. The mortality rate of women in childbirth has dropped from 1,500 out of 100,000 in 1949 to 51.3 out of 100,000 in 2003, and the infant mortality rate from 200? before the birth of New China to 25.5? in 2003.
II. Civil and Political Rights
The National People's Congress (NPC) and the local people's congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power. The NPC and its Standing Committee are playing a more and more important role in governing the country according to law and guaranteeing the people's democratic rights. The amendments to the Constitution adopted at the Second Session of the Tenth NPC in 2004 added many new provisions to the Constitution that are closely related to human rights. In 2004, the NPC Standing Committee examined drafts of 33 laws, interpretations of laws and decisions related to legal issues, and adopted 25 of them, providing further legal guarantee for economic and social development and human rights. Of them, the amended Law of Election of the NPC and Local People's Congresses further improved the election system, standardized the election procedures, and expanded and guaranteed the citizens' right of election. The amendments made to the law on the prevention and treatment of epidemics focused on the prevention of and early warning on epidemics, strengthened control over the spread of epidemics and medical treatment measures, and provided greater guarantee for the rights of citizens, sufferers from infectious diseases, and actual and suspected virus carriers. The recently adopted decision on the improvement of the system of people's jurors increased the transparency of the activities of the judicial departments, strengthened citizens' supervision over such activities and provided a guarantee for the procedural rights of citizens.
The NPC and its Standing Committee have strengthened supervision over the administrative and judicial organs as well as examination of the enforcement of laws, and support and encourage relevant state organs to do their duty and exercise their power according to law so as to safeguard the interests of the general public. In 2004, the NPC Standing Committee examined the enforcement of six laws, including the "Land Management Law," "Law on Compulsory Education" and "Trade Union Law." It examined and deliberated 11 work reports of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate about the establishment and improvement of an emergency mechanism concerning public health contingencies and the building of courts and procuratorates at the grass-roots level. Throughout the year, the NPC Standing Committee received more than 40,000 people seeking help from higher authorities for their problems, handled more than 60,000 petitions, and urged relevant departments and local governments to solve some of the problems that had caused great discontent among the masses, thus guaranteeing the citizens' right to appeal to higher authorities, file a charge and report an offence as provided for in the Constitution. During the Third Session of the Tenth NPC, convened in 2005, deputies submitted a total of 991 bills, an increase of 54.6 percent over those submitted during the Second Session of the Tenth NPC, convened in 2004. The bills touched upon the enactment or revision of laws on food safety, compulsory education, social security, land management, etc.
The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China is a basic political system in China. A political party system with Chinese characteristics, it has played an ever greater role in the political life of the state. In 2004, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) performed its functions of participating in the discussion and administration of state affairs, exercised its democratic rights and carried out democratic supervision through its regular work of making proposals, and inspections and investigations into specific issues, and reflecting public opinion. The CPPCC National Committee organized people to make revisions to the "Regulations on the Work of Making Proposals of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference," thus helping make the work of making proposals constitutionalized, standardized and in line with prescribed procedures. In the past year, the CPPCC National Committee received 4,478 bills submitted by its members and participating organizations. Of these, 4,263 were accepted for further deliberation. These bills covered such topics as the building of democracy and the legal system, increasing the farmers' incomes, safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers, establishment of a multi-layer social security system in the countryside, employment and re-employment, and welfare. It organized 30 inspection groups composed of over 750 CPPCC members. They went on inspection tours across the country, and submitted 26 reports. The various special committees of the CPPCC National Committee made in-depth investigations into specific issues, resulting in 68 investigative reports plus 1,390 other reports containing important information. The central committees of all the non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce submitted 115 bills and 2,503 reports concerning public opinion and information. These bills and information were promptly dealt with, and feedback was given. The Third Session of the Tenth CPPCC, convened in 2005, received 4,508 bills, of which 4,375, or 97.05 percent, were accepted for further deliberation.
The building of grass-roots democracy in the countryside entered a new phase. In 2004, the State Council issued the "Opinions on Making Village Affairs Public and Improving the Democratic Management System," which helped improve the system of making village affairs public and the system of democratic management at the grass-roots level and promote protection of ordinary villagers' democratic rights. A democratic management system based on the "Regulations on Villagers' Self-government" and "Village Regulations and Agreements" was established all over the country. A democratic decision-making system mainly in the form of villagers' congresses and representative conferences, and a democratic supervision system based on making village affairs public and democratic evaluation were also established, thus considerably raising the level of villagers' self-government within the framework of the law. A campaign was launched to create "exemplary villages of democratic management and rule of law." At present, about 10 percent of villages across the country have been awarded this honor.
The state pays special attention to guaranteeing - through petitions and visits - citizens' right to criticize, make suggestions, appeal to higher authorities, file a charge and report an offence. In 2004, the State Council revised the "Regulations on Petitions and Visits." The revised edition increased the government's responsibilities by demanding that its powers and responsibilities should be balanced, and highlighted the principles that all matters concerning petitions and visits should be conducted in an open manner and be convenient for the people, and the citizens' rights and interests must be protected. In 2004, the state created a joint meeting system to solve the most difficult problems encountered when handling petitions and visits, and cases involving large numbers of people, with focus being put on problems caused by house demolition, relocation in towns and cities, and requisition of land in the countryside, and intensified its supervision on the handling and solution of the problems. Correspondence and visitation departments handled petitions conscientiously, and received visitors in a civilized manner, and the quality of their work further improved. The state issued the "Suggestions on Further Involvement of Lawyers in Handling Law-Related Petitions and Visits from the People." Lawyers were organized to provide legal advice to help people solve their problems through legal channels.
Citizens' freedom of information, of speech and of the press is protected by law. At present, a three-level news briefing system consisting of the State Council's Information Office, and various departments of the State Council and provincial governments has basically been established. Sixty-two departments of the State Council have established the news briefing system, and appointed 75 spokespersons. Twenty-three provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) have established the news briefing system, and 20 of them have appointed spokespersons. Last year, 44 departments of the State Council gave some 270 news conferences, and 28 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) gave 460 news conferences. These activities greatly increased the transparency of government work, and helped citizens become better informed about administrative affairs. Protection of citizens' rights to information, supervision and participation in public affairs were further promoted. In 2004, the state enacted a series of laws and regulations to further improve China's press system and ensure that citizens can better exercise their right of freedom of the press.
Employees' right to participate in and organize trade unions has been further exercised and developed. In 2004, a national check was conducted of the enforcement of the "Trade Union Law," which promoted the building of trade union organizations. Special efforts were made to establish trade unions in non-public enterprises and have migrant workers join trade unions. The year 2004 also saw a considerable development of grass-roots trade union organizations and trade union members. By the end of September 2004, China had 1.02 million grass-roots trade union organizations, 115,000 more than in the previous year, an increase of 12.6 percent. Non-public enterprises had 459,000 trade unions, 102,000 more than in the previous year. The number of trade union members nationwide was 137 million, 13.544 million more than in the previous year, a growth of 11 percent. Trade unions at non-public enterprises had 55.463 million members, 14.543 million more than in the previous year. Nationwide, 63 percent of employees had joined a trade union, an increase of 6.2 percentage points over the previous year. The employees' conference system was established in 369,000 enterprises and institutions that had trade unions, involving 78.364 million employees, an increase of 2.211 million over the previous year. Enterprises and institutions that practiced the publicizing of internal affairs numbered 316,000, with 70.612 million employees involved, an increase of 4.373 million over the previous year. Boards of directors were established in 57,000 enterprises with grass-roots trade unions, and supervisory committees were established in 42,000 enterprises with grass-roots trade unions. Of these, 24,000 enterprises established boards of directors including ordinary employees, and 18,000 enterprises established supervisory committees with employees as members. The numbers of trade union chairmen and chairwomen who held posts on boards of directors or supervisory committees was 25,000 and 21,000, respectively, accounting for 44.7 percent and 49.9 percent of the members of each organ.
Citizens enjoy the freedom of religious belief in accordance with law. Religious groups, venues for religious activities, the legitimate rights and interests of religious adherents and their normal religious activities are protected by law. In 2004, the State Council promulgated China's first comprehensive administrative regulation on religious matters - "Regulations on Religious Affairs." It clearly defines the rights of religious groups and adherents with regards to religious activities, establishment of religious colleges and schools, publishing of religious books and periodicals, management of religious properties and foreign religious exchanges. It also regulates the administrative acts of relevant departments of the government so as to ensure that the legitimate rights and interests of religious believers, religious groups and venues for religious activities are not infringed upon. According to incomplete statistics, China has now more than 100 million religious adherents, more than 100,000 venues for religious activities, and about 300,000 clergy members. Normal religious ceremonies or rituals conducted by ministers and all other normal religious activities - carried out either in venues for religious activities or homes of religious adherents in accordance with religious tradition - are taken care of by believers themselves and protected by law. Different religions, of their own accord, have created more than 3,000 national and regional religious organizations. They elect their own leaders in accordance with their own regulations and conduct religious ceremonies independently. They also print and publish religious classics and periodicals, and hold public welfare services. The accumulative print run of the Bible has reached 35 million. Religious organizations run 76 religious colleges where ministers are trained. All religions follow the principle of running their own affairs independently and, on the basis of equality and friendship, they are actively engaged in exchanges and communication with religious organizations in other countries.
III. Judicial Guarantee for Human Rights
China has cracked down on various criminal offenses in accordance with law to protect citizens' life and the safety of their property. From January to October 2004, the Chinese public security organs investigated and cracked 2.004 million criminal cases. The people's courts at all levels wound up 644,248 criminal cases of first instance, in which 767,951 criminals were sentenced, effectively protecting the victims' legitimate rights and interests.
Adhering to the principle of "enforcing law in the interest of the people," the public security organs strengthened construction of the law enforcement system to ensure that law enforcement is strict, just and humane, improved the system of supervision over law enforcement, and made real efforts to solve some outstanding problems in law enforcement. From September 2003 to October 2004, the public security organs sorted out all the public security rules and regulations in effect since the founding of the People's Republic of China concerning the rights and duties of citizens, legal persons and other organizations. Among the 1,871 laws and regulations, 558 remained, 1,077 were abolished and 164 amended. In 2004, the public security organs worked out the "Working Plan for Solving Outstanding Problems in Law Enforcement to Promote the Construction of a Law Enforcement System of Public Security Organs," which listed key problems to be solved in law enforcement over next three years, and launched a special campaign to address breaches of regulations in law enforcement to conscientiously solve the problems of seizing, sealing up, freezing and confiscating properties, giving orders for business suspension and rectification, and revocation of business certificates and licenses in violation of set regulations. Meanwhile, the public security organs strengthened supervision over key links in law enforcement related to the protection of human rights. According to statistics, in 2004, the Chinese public security and judicial organs handled 22,976 administrative reconsideration cases and 3,666 lawsuits, which were respectively 3.6 percent and 5.4 percent more than those of the previous year. The quality of work in the handling of administrative cases and level of administrative law enforcement were further improved.
The judicial organs have adopted vigorous measures to prevent and contain extended detention. In 2004, the Chinese procuratorial organs had no extended detention, and urged other law-enforcing organs to correct the extended detention of 7,132 people. The Chinese courts cleared up 873 old and new cases of extended detention involving 2,432 people, settling all the cases save a handful due to technical legal problems. By the end of 2004, the Chinese public security organs had no extended detention.
The procuratorial organs have performed their functions honestly, conscientiously strengthened legal supervision and safeguarded justice in law enforcement. In 2004, the procuratorial organs rejected applications for the arrest of 67,904 people; supervised over the canceling of investigation of 2,699 cases, which they found should not have been put on file for investigation; made decisions not to prosecute 21,225 people; appealed against court judgments of 3,063 criminal cases and 13,218 civil cases; proposed for review of 4,333 cases; put 5,569 criminal appeal cases on file for reinvestigation and changed the original judgments in 786 cases; and filed for investigation cases of power abuse, dereliction of duty, soliciting or accepting bribes and malpractices for personal gain involving 3,010 judicial personnel, thus effectively safeguarding the citizens' rights and ensuring fairness and justice. To strengthen the work of investigation and arrest, and to protect suspects' legitimate rights and interests, the Supreme People's Procuratorate formulated the "Opinions on Interrogating Suspects When Handling and Investigating Cases Involving Arrest." At present, all the provincial procuratorates, 349 at the prefecture and city level and 2,407 at the county level are experimenting with the system of citizen supervisors. They account for 86 percent of the total number of procuratorates throughout the country. Under the supervision of the citizen supervisors, 3,341 cases have been concluded, thus effectively preventing handling of cases in violation of law and guaranteeing the quality of case handling.
Since May 2004, the Supreme People's Procuratorate has carried out a special campaign to severely deal with criminal cases involving government functionaries' infringement upon human rights by misusing their powers, focusing on cases of illegal detention and search, extorting confessions by torture, gathering evidence with violence, abusing people in custody, disrupting elections as well as serious cases of dereliction of duty that cause heavy losses of life and property of the people. In total, 1,595 government functionaries suspected of criminal activities were investigated and prosecuted, thus effectively bringing under control offences of infringement on rights.
The judicial organs have strengthened supervision over trials and the handling of petitions and visits involving legal procedures and lawsuits. Adhering to the principle of "handling each and every appeal," they have addressed the "obstacles to appeal" in a practical way. In 2004, the procuratorates throughout the country handled and concluded 20,306 cases of appeal according to law, the people's courts at all levels handled 4.22 million petitions and visits of complaint, and corrected the judgments in 16,967 cases that were proved to be wrongly judged according to law, which accounted for 0.34 percent of the annual total of court decisions in effect.
The trial system with Chinese characteristics has been further improved. Courts at all levels have further carried out the principle of open trial, striving to realize openness in filing for investigation, court hearing, conclusion of trial, and judgment documents and process of enforcement in the hope to promote justice with openness. Observance of trials by the general public has been facilitated with bulletins before trials and simplified procedures for attending trials. Over 50 million citizens observed trials in 2004.
The lawyer system has been continuously improved. In 2004, the Supreme People's Procuratorate formulated the "Regulations of People's Procuratorates to Ensure the Lawful Practice of Lawyers in Criminal Procedures," and the Ministry of Justice promulgated the "Provisional Regulations on Lawyers' Visits to Criminals in Custody." Relevant authorities in various places also promulgated many regulatory documents to guarantee lawyers' rights in practice, all of which further ensured that lawyers practice in accordance with the law. Statistics show that up to June 2004 there were 114,500 lawyers in practice and 11,691 law firms in China.
The legal aid system has been further improved. The Supreme People's Court adopted the "Decision on Providing Judicial Aid to Litigants with Real Financial Difficulties," improving the system of judicial aid. Payment of lawsuit fees have been reduced, exempted or allowed to be delayed, so that the litigants with real financial difficulties in civil and administrative cases, especially senior citizens, women, minors, disabled people, laid-off workers, migrant workers from rural areas, as well as victims of traffic, medical and industrial accidents, can afford to seek justice from the courts. In 2004, the courts throughout the country provided judicial aid in 263,860 cases, an increase of 15.6 percent from the previous year. The judicial aid totaled 1.09 billion yuan, 3.1 percent more than in the previous year. Lawsuit fees have been reduced or exempted for cases involving child-support payment, spouse-support payment and parent-support payment, and lawsuits brought by households in rural areas enjoying the "five guarantees" (food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses - ed.) and by people in urban areas being provided with the minimum living guarantee. The issuance of the "Urgent Notice on Clearing Up Cases Concerning Delayed Payment for Construction Projects and Wages of Migrant Workers," in particular, provided judicial aid to migrant workers from rural areas in cases of labor disputes. As a result, 163,151 cases concerning demands for payment were concluded with high proficiency in filing for investigation, trial and enforcement. In 2004, governments at all levels throughout the country appropriated 217 million yuan in total for legal aid, 43 percent more than in the previous year. Throughout China, 3,023 legal aid organizations were set up, 249 more than in the previous year; and during the year, 190,187 legal aid cases were handled, 23,754 more than in the previous year, extending aid to 294,138 litigants. People from all walks of life also actively participated in legal aid work. The All-China Women's Federation and local women's federations have officially opened 2,700 legal aid centers for women and agencies for protection of women's rights. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions and local trade unions have established 2,990 legal aid organizations for workers. The China Disabled Persons' Federation and local disabled persons' federations have signed cooperation agreements with over 3,000 law firms for legal aid in cases concerning the protection of disabled people's rights. Over 30 institutions of higher learning, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and Wuhan University, have provided legal aid services to people with difficulties by combining legal aid and clinical legal education.
The legal rights and interests of people in custody are protected by law. In 2004, the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly planned, organized and launched a drive to build "model units for strengthening the enforcement of surveillance and legal supervision, and for guaranteeing smooth criminal proceedings and the legal rights and interests of detainees" in all the detention houses throughout China. Consequently, a large number of model detention houses have emerged with advanced facilities, standard law enforcement and humane management. The system of meeting public procurators has been generally established in detention houses, supervision over food, health care and epidemic prevention for detainees has been strengthened, the detainees' physical health and protection of their property has been accorded with greater attention, and the system of informing detainees of their rights, the system of open procuratorial work and visit system have been improved, thus effectively protecting detainees' legal rights and interests. By the end of 2004, the Chinese procuratorial organs had set up 77 sub-procuratorates in large prisons or areas where prisons and reeducation-through-labor camps are concentrated, and over 3,700 procuratorial offices in medium-sized and small prisons, reeducation-through-labor camps and detention houses. Procurators have been dispatched to over 90 percent of China's prisons, detention houses and reeducation-through-labor camps. The supervision system is being improved step by step.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of laborers' rights. The state has adopted many measures to promote employment and reemployment, including reemployment aid, strengthened control of unemployment and regulation over staff cuts by enterprises. In 2004, there were 9.8 million new employees and 5.1 million reemployed laid-off workers in urban areas in China; the registered unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in urban areas, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the previous year. By the end of 2004, the number of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises shrank to 1.53 million, of whom 920,000 joined reemployment service centers, where they received subsistence allowances, and which paid their social insurance premiums.
The labor security and social insurance systems have been further strengthened. In 2004, the State Council promulgated and implemented the "Rules of Supervision over Labor Security," thus providing a legal basis in this aspect. The "Provisions on Collective Contracts" and the "Provisions on Minimum Wages" were amended and promulgated. A minimum-wage guarantee system has been established in all areas, and most areas have readjusted the minimum-wage standards in a timely and appropriate way. The "Corporate Annuity Trial Measures" and the "Management of Corporate Annuity Funds Trial Measures" were enacted and promulgated to promote the establishment of a multi-level system of old-age insurance. The management of hospitals and pharmacies designated for medical insurance has been further improved. Guidance has been given to employees of organizations of mixed ownership and non-state-owned enterprises to participate in medical insurance, and the catalogues of medicines covered by basic medical insurance and industrial injury insurance have been amended to better cater to the demands of the insured for reasonable use of medicine. Considering the constant flow of migrant workers from rural areas, a special policy has been made and implemented for their participation in industrial injury insurance and the payment of compensation for industrial injuries. A comprehensive study has been launched of the situation of employment and social security of migrant workers from rural areas and farmers whose lands have been requisitioned. Energetic efforts have been made to promote the participation of employees of high-risk enterprises in industrial insurance in light of the high risks they are exposed to.
The coverage of social insurance has been continuously expanded, and various insurance funds and social security funds have continued to increase considerably. In 2004, the central treasury put 146.5 billion yuan into social security, 18.1 percent more than in the previous year. The standards of basic pensions for retirees from enterprises and the minimum living guarantee for urban residents in some areas have been raised. In 2004, basic pensions were duly and fully issued to all retirees from enterprises throughout China, totaling 303.1 billion yuan, with 52.2 billion yuan of subsidies from the central treasury. By the end of 2004, the numbers of people participating in basic pension insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance and industrial injury insurance in urban areas had reached 164 million, 106 million, 124 million and 68.45 million, respectively, 8.47 million, 2.11 million, 15.02 million and 22.70 million more than at the end of the previous year respectively. In the rural areas, 55 million people had participated in social old-age pension system. In 2004, 4.19 million people received unemployment insurance benefits, 0.52 million people received compensation under the industrial injury insurance scheme, about 2.20 million farmers received old-age pensions, and 22.01 million urban residents were issued minimum living allowances by the government.
The state has vigorously developed education, science, culture, health care and sports, striving to guarantee citizens' rights to education, culture and living in an all-round way. In 2004, the central treasury earmarked 98.7 billion yuan and invested 14.7 billion yuan in treasury bonds for these purposes. In the same year, the central treasury appropriated various special-purpose funds, totaling over 10 billion yuan, for compulsory education in rural areas, an increase of more than 70 percent from the 5.8 billion yuan of 2003. The central treasury appropriated 6.8 billion yuan for education, including basic universal nine-year compulsory education and basic elimination of illiteracy among young and middle-aged people ("two basic's" for short), as well as construction of public health care facilities in the western regions, 2.7 billion yuan more than in the previous year. As a result, 2.0558 million illiterate people received rudimentary education, 2,364 boarding schools in western rural areas are being built, ramshackle buildings of 8,130 secondary and elementary schools in central and western China were renovated, and 24 million students from impoverished families within the compulsory education period in central and western rural areas received free textbooks. At present, there are more than 70,000 private schools (educational establishments) at all levels and of various kinds, with over 17 million students, and more than 10,000 training institutes. In 2003, the national treasury appropriated 109.4 billion yuan for compulsory education in rural areas, more than twice the 53.3 billion yuan in 1999 and accounting for 80 percent of the total funds for the purpose in the same year.
In 2004, the enrolment of technical college students and undergraduate students throughout the country was 4.473 million, 0.65 million more than in 2003, and the enrolment of graduate students was 0.326 million, 0.057 million more than in 2003. At present, there are over 20 million students in institutions of higher learning in China, and the gross enrolment ratio for higher education has reached 19 percent. Enrolment in secondary vocational education has reached 5.48 million, and there are now 13.68 million students in such schools. There are 5.957 million undergraduate students and technical college students in institutions of higher vocational education, 1 million more than in the previous year.
Cultural undertakings continued to develop and the people's cultural life continued to improve. By November 2004, the national cultural information sharing project had 32 provincial sub-centers, nearly 3,000 grass-roots centers and over 50,000 terminal users. By the end of 2004, the country had 2,599 art troupes, 2,858 cultural centers, 2,710 public libraries, 1,509 museums, 282 radio stations, and 314 TV stations with 60 education channels. There were about 115 million cable TV users, and 30 cities with cable digital TV services for 1.22 million users. The overall population coverage rates of radio and TV broadcasting were 94.1 percent and 95.3 percent, respectively. In 2004, 212 feature films and 44 films on science and education, documentaries and animated cartoons were produced. In the same year, 25.77 billion copies of national and provincial newspapers, 2.69 billion copies of periodicals of various kinds and 6.44 billion copies of books were published. A relatively complete public cultural service system had taken initial shape, and the people's basic cultural rights were protected.
The government has adopted measures to improve the farmers' cultural, scientific and technological qualities, enhance their ability to increase their incomes, and improve their production and living conditions. In 2004, the government arranged 1,692 projects under the Spark Program, in which agricultural produce processing projects accounted for 33.1 percent, projects for the development of advantageous resources and characteristic industries in rural areas accounted for 13.89 percent, and high-efficiency cultivation and breeding projects accounted for 24.7 percent. Over 3.10 million were trained in different skills for rural enterprises, 236 rural enterprises received support to set up state-level centers for technological innovations, and over 1,500 state-level intermediary agencies of all kinds were established to provide science and technology services in rural areas. So far, 143,400 Spark Program demonstration projects have been implemented, involving nearly 90 percent of the counties and cities throughout the country. In recent years, the state has invested 10.3 billion yuan to solve the drinking water problem for over 60 million rural people. In 2004, 1.8 billion yuan was arranged in the form of treasury bonds for investment in projects to make drinking water available to people and domestic animals in rural areas, which helped solve the problem of safe drinking water for 9.58 million people in the countryside. The "2005-2006 Emergency Plan for Drinking Water Projects in Rural Areas" was worked out, which was expected to solve the drinking water problem for 21.20 million rural residents. Meanwhile, 2 billion yuan-worth of treasury bonds was issued for investment in the construction of marsh gas facilities, which would provide marsh gas for 2.07 million rural households. A project for the construction of pastoral steppes and settlement of nomads in Tibet was carried out continuously, which received accumulatively 180 million yuan by 2004 and, when completed in 2006, it would settle 8,000 nomad families totaling 40,000 people. Some 6.4 billion yuan of work-for-food funds was appropriated to construct 1.85 million mu (15 mu equals to 1 ha) of basic farmland, add and improve 9.70 million mu of irrigated areas, build, renovate and extend 40,000 km of highways, and prevent and control soil erosion in an area of 0.155 million sq km.
The government attaches great importance to the protection of the farmers' legitimate rights and interests. In 2004, the government examined compensation for and settlement of farmers whose collectively-owned lands had been requisitioned, and paid defaulted compensation for land requisition totaling 14.77 billion yuan. The government sorted out and annulled discriminative regulations and unreasonable restrictions on farmers seeking employment in urban areas, and continued to improve protection of the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers from rural areas, requiring that their children should enjoy equal rights to compulsory education with local children, forbidding arbitrary collection of fees from them, improving job services for them, providing them with good consultation services, strengthening their training for employment, further solving their problem of defaulted wages, reinforcing the management of labor contracts as well as procuratorial work and law enforcement concerning labor security, handling promptly labor dispute cases, encouraging trade unions to protect their rights and interests according to law, and providing them with industrial injury insurance. In 2004, the "Provisional Measures for the Management of Payment of Wages to Migrant Construction Workers from Rural Areas" was formulated, which provided for an overall clear-up of defaults on payment of project fees as well as wages of migrant workers from rural areas. By the end of 2004, migrant construction workers from rural areas received wages totaling 33.2 billion yuan defaulted accumulatively over the previous years.
The government protects women's legitimate rights and interests according to law. By the end of 2004, 2,603 coordination teams or joint conferences for the protection of women's and children's rights and interests above the county level had been established, 22 provinces had formulated regulations, opinions or measures against domestic violence, and 3,183 courts or jury panels had been set up for the protection of women's rights. Meanwhile, the All-China Women's Federation had conducted a sample survey in six provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) and 24 counties (cities and prefectures) under their jurisdiction, to learn about the state of women's legal knowledge and needs. It also held its fifth Rights Protection Week, with the theme "Legal System Promotion and Education by Doing Practical Work," combining legal system promotion and education with safeguarding women's rights and interests, which benefited directly over 200,000 counts of people.
Women's equal rights and interests in political, economic and social spheres are being gradually realized along with social development. From the Fourth National People's Congress held in 1975 to the Tenth National People's Congress held in 2003, women deputies accounted for over 20 percent of the total number of deputies. The scale of employment, payment and education level of women are roughly on the same level as those for men. The government actively provides women with reproduction health services and has introduced informed choice in contraception and birth control to protect women's rights to reproduction health, information and choice. In 2004, the government launched "World AIDS Day" activities which featured the theme "Show Concern for Women, Say No to AIDS" to provide face-to-face dissemination and education for 34.83 percent of China's female population. Meanwhile, the government severely punishes such unlawful acts as unnecessary medical tests on the sex of fetuses, artificial abortion because of the sex of a fetus, and drowning or abandoning girl babies. The experimental campaign of "Caring for Girls" was launched in 11 counties in 11 provinces with excessively high male sex ratios in the newly born population, and it was expanded to 24 counties in 24 provinces the same year. Moreover, the governments of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government launched the experimental campaign on their own initiative in 638 places at or above the county level. As a result, all the areas with excessively high male sex ratios among the newly born population are now covered by the campaign, and the rights and interests of women and girls are truly protected.
V. Equal Rights and Special Protection for Ethnic Minorities
By electing deputies to the NPC from their own ethnic groups, all ethnic minorities exercise the right to participate in the administration of state affairs. Starting from the First NPC, the proportions of deputies of ethnic minorities among the total number of deputies in every NPC have been higher than the proportions of their populations in the nation's total population in the corresponding periods. The Tenth NPC has 415 ethnic-minority deputies, accounting for 13.91 percent of the total and 5.5 percentage points higher than the proportion of their total population in the nation's total population. Every ethnic group has its NPC deputy or deputies. Ethnic groups each with a population of more than one million have member(s) on the NPC Standing Committee. People of all ethnic groups in ethnic autonomous areas are entitled to vote and stand for election, as provided for in the Constitution and other laws. By electing deputies to the local people's congresses and establishing local organs of self-government, they exercise their democratic rights to manage the internal affairs of their own ethnic groups in their autonomous areas. Among the chairmen or vice-chairmen of the standing committees of the people's congresses of all 155 ethnic autonomous areas in China there are citizens of the ethnic group or groups exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. The heads of all autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties are all citizens of the ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned.
Increased financial input from the state has brought about rapid economic and social development in ethnic-minority areas and continuously improved the living standard of ethnic minority peoples. To accelerate the development of China's western regions and ethnic autonomous areas, the Chinese government launched a grand strategy for the development of western China in 2000, which covers five autonomous regions, 27 autonomous prefectures and 83 of the 120 autonomous counties (banners). In addition, three other autonomous prefectures are allowed to enjoy the preferential policies the state has adopted for the western regions. During the five years since the kickoff of the strategy for the development of the western part of the country, the construction of 60 key projects has begun, involving a total investment of 850 billion yuan. In 2004, the state started ten major projects to develop western China, with a total investment of 80 billion yuan and covering the fields of transportation, energy, education and public health. According to statistics, in 2004, the GDP of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was 271.2, 332, 21, 46 and 220 billion yuan, respectively, representing increases of 19.4, 11.8, 12.4, 11, and 11.1 percent respectively over the previous year. The state continues its efforts to invigorate the border areas and help people in those areas become wealthy. In addition to the areas where pilot projects had been launched, in 2004, the state designated another 37 counties for special support. From 2000 to 2004, a total of 264 million yuan from the central treasury was allocated to invigorate border areas and make their residents better off. Funds from other sources across the country totaled more than 15 billion yuan, and they were used for the construction of more than 20,000 projects.
Education in ethnic-minority areas has advanced with great strides. The ethnic autonomous areas are key targets for the state's plans to basically make nine-year compulsory education universal and basically eliminate illiteracy among the young and middle-aged population. Special educational funds allocated by the state and key educational projects undertaken by the state are steered to the ethnic minority areas. The "Compulsory Education Project for Impoverished Areas" launched by the state is also geared to the ethnic minority areas in the western part of the country. During the period of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the state has set aside 5 billion yuan for the continuous implementation of the second phase of the "Compulsory Education Project for Impoverished Areas." More than 80 percent of the funds has been or will be used in western China and other areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. So far, 4 billion yuan has already been used to repair or rebuild dilapidated buildings of primary and middle schools in the countryside, of which 57 percent has been used in western China and other areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. Eighty-three percent of the school-age children in Xinjiang, Tibet, Ningxia and Qinghai get free textbooks. In the agricultural and pastoral areas of Tibet, school-age children not only are exempted from school fees but also are provided with free meals and accommodation. Students in 56 counties in Xinjiang get free textbooks and notebooks, and are exempted from paying school fees. In Yunnan Province, students who are exempted from paying for their textbooks, notebooks and school fees totaled 409,000 in 2004, an increase of 92,000 compared with the previous year. China now has 13 ethnic institutions of higher learning, which enroll mainly students of ethnic-minority origin. In order to train people of ability for Tibet and Xinjiang, these colleges and universities have made special efforts to run preparatory classes for minority peoples, classes for minority peoples, and classes for students from Xinjiang. In 2004, the Dachang Advanced Experimental Middle School in Hebei Province set up classes for students from the western part of China, which enrolled 108 senior high school students of ethnic minority origin from Guangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Hubei and Ningxia. These students will study there until they complete their senior high school program. When enrolling new students, institutions of higher learning and secondary specialized schools usually lower the admission criteria for ethnic-minority applicants, and give preferential treatment to students from ethnic groups with extremely small populations.
The state provides support to organs of self-government of autonomous areas to independently develop cultural undertakings in ethnic languages and with ethnic characteristics, including literature, art, news, publishing, broadcasting, movies and television programs. It organizes and provides support for the collecting, editing, translating and publishing of historical and cultural books of ethnic minorities. It protects scenic spots and historical sites, valuable cultural relics, and other important items of the local cultural heritage, and inherits and carries forward the traditional culture of the ethnic groups. The state has established a national ethnic-minority ancient books publishing planning team to sort out ancient books of ethnic minorities. Now, institutions for the editing of and research in ancient books of ethnic minorities have been established in 25 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), 130 autonomous prefectures and leagues across the country. They have collected 120,000 titles of ancient books of ethnic minorities and published over 5,000 of them. By the end of 2004, China had 30 world heritage sites including cultural, natural sites and the mixed. Two of the cultural heritage sites, namely, the Potala Palace in Lhasa and the Old Town of Lijiang, and three of the natural heritage sites, namely, Jiuzhaigou Scenic & Historic Interest Area, Huanglong Scenic & Historic Interest Area and the Three Parallel Rivers scenic spot, are located in ethnic autonomous areas. In addition, the Dongba classical documents of the Naxi ethnic group are included in the World Memory Heritage List. A National Traditional Ethnic Minority Sports Meet is held every four years. The development of the traditional medicine of the ethnic groups is thriving. At present, Tibet produces 293 kinds of Tibetan medicine, with an annual output of over 1,500 tons. Tibetan ready-made medicine has found its way to the national public medicare market. The total annual output value of Tibetan medicine producers is more than 450 million yuan.
The state attaches great importance to ecological construction and environmental protection in ethnic autonomous areas. All the four key areas and four key projects listed in the "National Ecological Environment Construction Plan" of the Chinese government are in ethnic minority areas. The "Natural Forest Protection Project" and the projects for converting farming land back to forestry and pasture are mostly in ethnic minority areas. Nearly half of the 226 national nature reserves are located in those areas. In addition, the central government has launched the "Project for Comprehensive Improvement of the Environment of the Tarim Basin" in Xinjiang and the "Project for Protection of the Source of the Three Rivers" in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai, and attaches great importance to the ecological improvement of the karst areas in southern China.
VI. The Rights and Interests of the Disabled
The legal and policy guarantees for the rights and interests of disabled people have been enhanced. In 2004, an amendment of the "Law on Protection of the Disabled" was started, aiming to further improve the legal guarantee for the rights and interests of the disabled and for the development of undertakings relating to the disabled. At present, most counties, towns and townships in China have formulated preferential policies for the disabled and regulations on aiding them. In the rural areas, the disabled enjoy reduction of or exemption from taxes and fees. In September 2004, the State Council officially approved a second national sample survey regarding the disabled people, which would gather basic information on their present situations, and provide a detailed, reliable basis for the government to formulate and implement laws, regulations, development plans, policies and measures concerning the disabled, to strengthen and improve services for them, and to help them be better off. The government issued the "Opinions on Further Enhancing the Work of Aiding Impoverished Disabled People," which provides an overall plan for the aid, social security, employment, education, rehabilitation and rights protection for the impoverished disabled people, and which promotes settlement of their problems in basic production and living. In 2004, China Welfare Fund for the Disabled donated 1 million yuan and cooperated with the China Disabled Persons' Federation in launching the campaign of "aiding the disabled in protection of their rights," providing subsidies for handling cases involving disabled people who needed legal aid. Legal service and aid organizations provided services and aid to the disabled totaling 130,000 person-times, thus safeguarding their legal rights and interests.
The socialized rehabilitation service system has been continuously improved, key rehabilitation projects implemented effectively, and disabled people's self-reliance in daily life, social adaptability and living qualities enhanced. In 2004, over 3.30 million disabled people overcame their disabilities to varying degrees. Of them, 580,000 people suffering from cataracts received operations to recover their sight, among whom over 100,000 impoverished received free operations; nearly 30,000 people suffering from poor sight were provided with visual aids; 24,000 deaf children received training in hearing and speaking; over 80,000 physically disabled persons and children suffering from cerebral palsy and mental disabilities participated in rehabilitation training; over 2.50 million people suffering from mental diseases underwent medical treatment and rehabilitation training; more than 3,900 persons suffering from malformation caused by leprosy received plastic surgical operations; and over 1 million devices for aiding the disabled were supplied.
The disabled persons' education and employment have been better guaranteed. Education for disabled children has been included in the state compulsory education system, and their enrolment rate been risen continuously. In 2004, 4,112 disabled students were admitted to institutions of higher learning, 543,000 disabled people received vocational education and training, and over 40,000 impoverished disabled students received financial assistance. In urban areas, 305,000 disabled people were newly employed; in rural areas, 16.241 million disabled people engaged in crop farming, fish breeding and poultry raising, or household handicraft making. The rate of employment for the disabled has exceeded 80 percent.
Social security for the disabled has been better implemented. Large numbers of disabled people have benefited from the minimum living standard program. Classified assistance has been carried out in some areas, where special aid is provided for disabled people with excessive difficulties, such as seriously disabled people or families with more than one disabled members, by raising their minimum living guarantee standard and level. In some urban areas, impoverished disabled people who are self-employed are entitled to subsidies for participating in basic old-age insurance. At present, 4.469 million disabled people in China are provided with social security of various forms. The aid-the-poor development program for the rural areas continues to provide special aid to the impoverished disabled people, and people from all walks of life in the society have assisted impoverished disabled people in various ways. In 2004, 1.27 million disabled people no longer had the problem of having enough to eat and wear. To improve the housing conditions of impoverished disabled people, the central treasury appropriated 50 million yuan for subsidies and the local governments at various levels funded 277 million yuan in total to renovate the houses of over 20,000 households, benefiting 27,000 disabled people.
The cultural and sports life of the disabled people has become increasingly rich and varied. In cultural centers, libraries, gymnasiums and stadiums, more and more conveniences and services have been provided for disabled people. TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines give wide coverage to the lives of disabled people, and launched special programs or opened special columns. A large number of publications for and about disabled people have been published, and many films and TV plays about their life produced. The Sixth Exhibition of Programs for Disabled People of People's Radio Stations, the Fourth National Joint Performance of Schools of Special Education, and the National Exhibition of Fine Arts of Schools of Special Education were held. The China Disabled People's Arts Troupe made a performance tour in seven countries, including Switzerland and Turkey, displaying their talents and dynamic spirit. The Chinese Fraternity of Disabled Writers has been founded. In the 12th Paralympics in Athens, Chinese disabled athletes won 63 gold, 46 silver and 32 bronze medals, ranking the first in total number of gold and total number of medals. Their perseverance and sportsmanship won praise of people from various countries.
A social environment of equal participation, care and help for disabled people has taken shape. On May 16, 2004, the 14th "National Help-the-Disabled Day," a rich variety of practical, effective activities was launched all over the country. Help-the-disabled activities in the society continued, including "Volunteers for Helping the Disabled," "Red Scarf Movement for Helping the Disabled," "Cultural Circles' Help for the Disabled," "Help for the Disabled from Science and Technology Circles" and "Legal Assistance for the Disabled," solving many practical difficulties for them. More than 50,000 liaison offices of help-the-disabled volunteers have been established throughout the country. Headway has been made in building a barrier-free environment for the disabled. A large number of sloping passages, paths for the blind, handrails and audio traffic signs and other facilities for the disabled persons' convenience have been either built or renovated on the major roads, in shopping centers, hospitals, hotels, cinemas, theaters, museums, airports, railway stations and public premises in the large and medium-sized cities. Twelve cities launched the campaign of building a model barrier-free city. Many news programs on TV are with sign language. More and more TV programs and films have subtitles. All these have made it more convenient for disabled people to come out of home to participate in information exchange and social life and enjoy public services. An environment where the disabled people are understood, respected, cared about and helped in the society has gradually taken shape.
VII. International Exchanges and Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights
The Chinese government cherishes the important role of international instruments on human rights in promoting and protecting human rights. As a member of 21 international conventions on human rights, including the "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," it has adopted a series of measures to perform its duties specified in the conventions, and submits on time its reports on implementing the conventions for consideration of the United Nations treaty bodies. With a sincere and responsible attitude, the Chinese government is actively considering approving the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." In 2004, China conscientiously wrote its Fourth and Fifth Combined Report on the "Implementation of Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment," giving an account of the implementation of the convention in China, including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region, from 1999 to 2004. It also conscientiously wrote its first reports on the implementation of the "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" and the "Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography."
China has been actively involved in the formulation of legal instruments concerning international human rights. In 2004, the Chinese government sent delegations to participate in drafting legal documents such as the "Legally Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances" and "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."
China has actively conducted international cooperation in the field of human rights. Since it signed the "Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation" with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) in 2000, both sides have launched a series of projects of cooperation in human rights. In 2004, a UNOHCHR project assessment team visited China, and assessed its implementation of the "Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation." China also hosted the visit of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Together with the UNICEF's office in China, China held a seminar on the questionnaire of the UN Independent Expert on Violence Against Children, gave an honest, detailed answer to it, and submitted it to the United Nations. In December 2004, China submitted to the United Nations its answer to the questionnaire on child pornography on the Internet based on careful study.
China has continued to actively participate in and promote the activities of the second "Asia and Pacific Decade of the Disabled" (2003-2012). In 2004, the United Nations presented Deng Pufang, Chairman of China Disabled Persons' Federation, the "award of outstanding contributions to the 25 years of UN-China cooperation," commending his outstanding contributions to human rights. It represented full recognition of the international community for the persistent efforts China has made in promoting and protecting human rights and enhancing protection of the disabled in the world.
Based on equality and mutual respect, China has actively carried out bilateral dialogues and exchanges on human rights. In 2004, China held dialogues or consultations on human rights with Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands. It also conducted exchanges on this topic with Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Laos. China hosted the Sixth ASEM Informal Seminar on Human Rights, China-Africa Seminar on Human Rights, China-EU Seminar on the Ratification of the ICCPR, China-Australia Seminar on the Economic Development and the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic Minorities and Aborigines, and the Sixth China-Canada-Norway Human Rights Forum. In May 2004, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, in cooperation with the relevant Australian authorities, held the China-Australia seminar on protection of the human rights of detainees and prisoners, discussing about such issues as the function and role of procuratorial organs in protection of the human rights of detainees and prisoners. These dialogues and exchanges enhanced mutual understanding, reduced differences and expanded consensus between China and other countries on human rights issues. At the same time, non-governmental organizations also carried out active dialogues and exchanges. Chinese NGOs, such as China Society for Human Rights Studies, conducted wide-ranging exchanges and cooperation on human rights with the Project Assessment Team of UNOHCHR, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UNCHR, government and parliament delegations from Germany, Ireland, Egypt and Vietnam, as well as non-governmental organizations from various countries, which enhanced mutual understanding.
At the end of 2004, when the most serious tsunami in recorded history happened in the Indian Ocean, the Chinese government and people, out of deep sympathy with the suffering of the people of the afflicted countries, provided earnest help to the full extent of their capabilities for their disaster relief and rehabilitation, gaining wide appreciation at home and from abroad for their spirit of internationalism and humanism. The Chinese government offered emergency aid to the afflicted countries immediately after the disaster. By March 1, 2005, the Chinese government had offered 686 million yuan worth of aid, and the non-governmental donations amounted to 576 million yuan, in which over 50 percent of governmental aid in kind and cash had been delivered to the afflicted countries. The Chinese government also sent two international aid teams, four medical teams, a DNA analysis team and an investigation and consolation delegation. The three specialized post-disaster assessment and rehabilitation investigation teams sent to the stricken areas, having fully communicated with the governments of the countries, formulated focused plans for participation in rehabilitation. The Chinese government was also actively involved in international and regional cooperation in the early-warning mechanism for severe natural disasters, making its contributions to the better living and development of the world population.
Realization of full human rights is a common pursuit of all countries in the world. It is also an important target of China's all-round construction of a well-off, harmonious socialist society. Together with the international community, China will, as always, make persistent efforts in promoting continuous progress of human rights in China and healthy development of international human rights.
Information Office of the State Council
April 2005, Beijing