China has a comprehensive and integrated concept of human rights, which combines universal principles with its actual conditions, and Western countries should not interfere in China's domestic affairs under the pretext of human rights, experts said.
They made the remark as China completed its third National Human Rights Action Plan (2016-20) and is drafting and implementing the fourth one.
"Western countries should not force other countries to hold the same belief in human rights. At this very moment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Western countries ought to respect and learn from each other to better protect human rights," said Chang Jian, director of Nankai University's Center for Human Rights Studies.
China respects and accepts the international norms and system of protecting human rights, and it also believes that the contents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and some related agreements should be interpreted in various ways due to the unique culture and societal environment of each country, he said.
"The Western notion of human rights is not synonymous with the international view of human rights," Chang said.
Li Yunlong, a professor of human rights research at the International Strategy Research Institute at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, pointed out that many Western countries tend to regard economic, social and cultural rights as less significant than suffrage and civil liberties.
"China insists that the rights to subsistence and development are primary basic human rights," he said.
In a congratulatory message to a symposium on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018, President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, made it clear that people living a happy life is the primary human right.
In March, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the situation of a country's human rights should be judged by its people, rather than other countries based on their own preferences.
He said the world should listen to and absorb the views of developing countries so that the definition of human rights will be more comprehensive, diverse and balanced, adding that the rights to live and develop are as important as political and social rights, and fairness and justice should be respected the same as democracy and freedom.
The Western concept of human rights can be traced back to the Age of Enlightenment, but the widely accepted international view of human rights was developed after World War II and formed in 1948 when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to Chang.
"The participants in formulating the declaration, and a series of related treaties and agreements, were from all across the world, including China," he said.
"Though the Western world was the dominating force in formulating the papers, there were Chinese elements in the documents. For example, the concept of conscience, which is emphasized in traditional Chinese culture, was integrated in this international declaration."
However, due to different views of human rights, in recent years, some Western countries, such as the United States and its Western allies, have turned a blind eye to China's fast development in human rights protection and continued to slander and smear its efforts, said Zhang Yonghe, a professor and executive director of the Human Rights Institute at Southwest University of Political Science and Law.
"China is one of the few countries in the world that has drawn up and implemented three consecutive national human rights action plans," he said. "The three plans fully demonstrate the government's determination and confidence in advancing human rights development."
While adhering to the people-centered philosophy, China has taken increasing people's sense of gains, happiness and security as the fundamental pursuit of human rights as well as the ultimate goal of State governance, according to Zhang.
In the past four decades, China has lifted more than 770 million people out of poverty. The life expectancy of Chinese people has risen to 77.3 years. The country's education, social security and healthcare systems as well as its grassroots democratic institutions are all the largest in the world. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, China has spared no effort in defending the value and dignity of human life, according to official data and documents.
Zhao Shukun, a professor at the Human Rights Institute at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, said that being different from some Western countries where their governments usually do not intervene in human rights issues, the CPC and the Chinese government played an important role in that area.
"The CPC started and has been leading the development of human rights in China since its establishment in 1921," she said. "Without the leadership of the CPC, there would be no new human rights development in China."
Given that the notion of human rights is a concept borrowed from Western culture, in the past most Chinese people knew little about it. But in the past decades, China has actively participated in international human rights activities and promoted these related ideas among the Chinese people.
Thanks to the three action plans and other government projects, China has caught up fast and achieved in just a few decades what Western countries took several hundred years to do, she said.