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China’s Leaders and UN Human Rights Commissioner Bachelet Agree, Economic Development Is a Human Right

May 25, 2022 (EIRNS)—The visit to China by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, is the first visit by a Human Rights Commissioner to China in 17 years. But it is not Mrs. Bachelet’s first visit to China or her first conversations with either President Xi Jinping or State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, with whom she had cordial meetings on May 24 and 25. As Chile’s President from 2006-2016 and 2014-2018, she had welcomed both men to Chile at different times and always stressed how important China is to Chile’s future development, economically, politically and strategically. In May 2017, she traveled to Beijing for a state visit at Xi Jinping’s invitation and also attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

So, she is a stranger neither to China nor its leadership, and certainly not, as former Chilean President, to the needs of developing nations. This, indeed, may explain some of the cacophony coming from both sides of the Atlantic about her six-day trip. She met virtually with President Xi Jinping on May 25, which followed her meeting with Wang Yi, one day earlier in Guangzhou. There, she also gave a lecture to the Human Rights Institute of Guangzhou University. Today, Xi elaborated to her on the human rights position of the Communist Party of China in working to achieve the people’s happiness and accomplish the rejuvenation of the Chinese people. After decades of strenuous efforts, Xi said, China has successfully found a path of human rights development in keeping with the trend of the times and China’s national reality. “Human rights are a rich and all-encompassing concept,” he emphasized, “and must be advanced with integrated and systematic measures. For developing countries, the rights to subsistence and development are the primary human rights,” he underscored.

Xi also said that China was open to dialogue on the question of human rights, stating that in terms of human rights protection, there is no ideal state and there is always room for improvement. But, he added, “the promotion and protection of human rights is a common cause for humanity and thus requires the concerted efforts of all. When it comes to human rights issues, there is no perfect ‘ideal state.’ ” The national conditions, histories, cultures, social systems and levels of economic and social development of each country must be taken into account. Blindly copying models from other countries regardless of conditions is not an option, he said, and “countries do not need patronizing lecturers; still less should human rights issues be politicized and used as a tool to apply double standards or as a pretext to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”

Bachelet expressed her appreciation to China for receiving her visit despite the COVID challenge, and said that she values this visit, and looks forward to having extensive engagements and direct communication with the Chinese government and people across different sectors, and is confident that this visit will give her a better understanding of China. She has great admiration for China’s efforts and achievements in eliminating poverty, protecting human rights and realizing economic and social development. China’s role in upholding multilateralism is particularly important, she said, in addition to tackling such global challenges as climate change, and promoting sustainable development across the world. The High Commissioner’s Office, she said, would like to enhance communication and explore cooperation with China to make joint efforts for the progress of the global human rights cause.

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