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Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 11:07

West's name-calling only intensifies contradictions

By China Daily

Impatience to hear and eagerness to pass judgment are two things that ruin a dialogue. A case in point, unfortunately, is the disappointing image painted of China's human rights situation by 12 Western countries in Geneva last week.

In response to their joint allegation of China's "deteriorating" conditions, the Chinese government reminded the accusers to clean their own houses first, retorting that China is a sovereign "country of rule of law" whose internal affairs brook no interference from other powers.

A face-off like this forebodes a tough time ahead, and risks throwing the China-West dialogue on human rights back to its starting point.

The dialogue has always been a difficult one. At times, the two sides appear to disagree on whether sovereign concerns override human rights, especially civil rights, and whether the rights to subsistence and development precede the right to democracy, as China insists.

But this is only one side of the issue. On the other side, China's critics have seldom acknowledged the progress it has made in human rights society-wide.

With economic development, more formerly under-employed rural people have found jobs in cities, more women are earning pay equal to men, and more people have been provided social security. The general improvement in ordinary people's living and working conditions hardly needs specific documentation.

From a historical perspective, the legitimacy of the Chinese proposition should be even easier to understand judging from its complex legacy, especially its large, multiethnic population that includes adherents of nearly all the major religions. A collective agreement is needed as the anchor for rule of law and society.

The Chinese government also admits that, like in any other country, there are individual cases of contestable grounds and even of downright injustice.

In the last few years, as the country's leadership has engaged in an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, its justice system has also been busier than ever in correcting the wrongful convictions of the past. As some officials who once wielded extensive power are brought down for investigation, other individuals who once were falsely tried have been judged innocent, and paid due compensation in the name of the State - although it would be premature to claim total success in either process.

These considered, the allegation that China's human rights condition has deteriorated is hard to accept on the Chinese side. Indeed, it can be taken as an outrageous insult to its anti-corruption campaign and efforts to redress the judicial wrongs in the past.

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