|ROME, June 11, 2018 -- The Chinese government is making great efforts to promote human rights in accordance with the country's economic and social development, experts said.
Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, Chinese society has changed "from one of poverty to one of affluence," China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) President Qiangba Puncog told reporters at a press conference held at the Chinese embassy on Friday.
"There is an important relationship between development and human rights -- in a sense, the right to development is also at the basis of human rights," he said.
Average life expectancy rose from 35 years in pre-1949 China to 76.5 years in 2016, and 68 million people were lifted out of poverty in the past five years alone, he said.
Professor Qi Yanping, a juridical expert who directs the Center for Human Rights Studies at Shandong University, pointed out that like China, the international community considers freedom from poverty to be a fundamental human right.
Lifting people out of poverty "is not just about making sure they have enough to eat -- it involves much more," Qi said, citing technology as an example.
"The Internet has improved conditions in many regions -- for example, residents in remote areas are now able to sell their local products, including abroad -- and they can use non-traditional means of transporting the merchandise, such as drones," Qi said.
Despite astonishing achievements, disparity between regions and "pressing ecological and environmental problems" persist in the country, Qiangba Puncog pointed out. "The issue of unsustainable, unbalanced, and non-harmonious development is still highly relevant."
To reduce the development gap, the Chinese central government is investing heavily in education, health care, and infrastructure in Tibet Autonomous Region and other areas, he said.
The country's leadership "is making great efforts to promote the harmonious development of economic, social and cultural rights along with civil and political rights," Qiangba Puncog said.
"We want to satisfy all of our citizens' needs - not just in terms of having enough to eat, but also in terms of democracy, justice, and the environment," Qi said.
Protecting the environment is the key to building a community with a shared future for humanity, Qiangba Puncog told Xinhua in an earlier interview, when asked to comment on the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement last summer.
As a major country, China "will take responsibility and make its contribution" to defending the planet, because being able to enjoy a clean environment is also a part of human rights, Qiangba Puncog said.