Farmer Qin Yongling displays eggs at a chicken farm in Renyuan Village of Jinji Township in Wuxuan County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, June 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Cao Yiming)
China's people-centered human rights philosophy has been under relentless and groundless attacks by some self-righteous and hypocritical Western countries. As a matter of fact, those Western countries are merely seeking to abuse the human rights issue as a geopolitical tool to interfere in others' domestic affairs.
by Xinhua writer Wang Lei
BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- A myth has long persisted that there is a best way to protect and promote human rights, and it is the West's way. This is simply not the truth.
Different countries have different histories, cultures and national conditions. Thus it is natural for them to have different approaches and set various priorities in their quest for a safe, free and happy life to their fellow citizens.
Take China as an example. With hundreds of millions struggling with poverty and starvation when the People's Republic of China was founded, the most pressing task was to grow the economy and to ensure that the Chinese people have enough access to life essentials such as water, food and clothes.
Women work at a poverty relief workshop of a relocation site in Fugong County of Lisu Autonomous Prefecture of Nujiang, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Nov. 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Hu Chao)
As the country develops, China is in a better position to meet people's needs for a better life, offering quality education and health care, and higher-paying jobs and ensuring more friendly environment and enhanced social fairness and justice. When the deadly coronavirus broke out, China spares no efforts to protect people's rights to life and health -- the most fundamental part of human rights.
However, China's people-centered human rights philosophy has been under relentless and groundless attacks by some self-righteous and hypocritical Western countries. As a matter of fact, those Western countries are merely seeking to abuse the human rights issue as a geopolitical tool to interfere in others' domestic affairs.
While those self-styled Western "judges" are trying to lecture China and others on human rights, their own human rights records are deplorable. The tragic death of George Floyd last year and the recent killings of six Asian women in Atlanta are a constant reminder of the serious racial discrimination and festering hate crimes in the United States, a country that always tries to brand itself as a human rights defender. What an irony!
Amid the raging pandemic, people's rights to life and health in those countries were recklessly disregarded and deprived. Nearly 550,000 lives in the United States have perished, a death toll heavier than those from the two world wars and the Vietnam war combined. In Britain, over 120,000 lives have been taken by the virus.
Medical workers carry a patient from an ambulance to George Washington University Hospital in Washington D.C., the United States, on April 27, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)
The staggering loss of human lives and the seemingly never-ending debate over mask-wearing and restriction measures also shed a light on a dilemma confronting some Western societies -- individual liberties or the security of collective human rights. In fact, such debates in the West have long predated the pandemic.
In the early 1900s, a female cook named Mary Mallon was identified as the source of typhoid outbreaks in several New York families. To contain the virus, the woman, an asymptomatic carrier of disease, was forcibly quarantined for a total of 26 years. She spent the rest of her life and died alone in a small hospital with poor hygiene. Her tragic story represents a classic example of the conflict between an individual's liberty and the health safety of a whole society.
Like it or not, people of all countries are closely related to each other like never before in today's super-interconnected world. Too much emphasis on individual liberties, like refusing to wear a mask in a raging pandemic, is likely to put the rights of many others into grave danger.
Over the centuries, Western countries have formed their own human rights values that are fitted to their particular historical circumstances and social systems, and yet those values are neither perfect nor universal.
All members of the international community, especially the Western world, need to refrain from lecturing others about human rights, learn to respect others' choices, and make further practical contributions to the international human rights cause. ■