(Apr. 28, 2009) On April 13, 2009, China's State Council Information Office released the National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2010), which the government called the country's first national human rights action plan. According to its preamble, the Plan is in response to the call of the United Nations for the formulation of national human rights action plans. It is designed to define the Chinese government's goals in promoting and protecting human rights and the specific measures it is taking to this end. A wide range of civil liberties will, according to the lengthy five-chapter document, be better protected in the next two years under this lengthy five- chapter document. The details include:
I. Economic, social, and cultural rights protection: covering the right to work, basic living conditions, social security, health, and education; plus cultural rights, environmental rights, rights of peasants, and rights of the Sichuan earthquake victims.
II. Civil and political rights protection: covering personal rights, the rights of detainees, the right to a fair trial, freedom of belief and religion, the right to learn about government policies, the right to participate in government decisions, and the right to oversee the government.
III. Protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, women, children, senior citizens, and disabled citizens.
IV. Human rights education.
V. Performance of international human rights duties and exchanges and cooperation in the field of international human rights.
(Text of the Plan [in Chinese], Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China official website, Apr. 13, 2009, available at http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2009-04/13/content_1283983.htm; Full Text: National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) [in English], PEOPLE'S DAILY, Apr. 13, 2009, available at http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90785/6635641.html.)
Human rights activists applauded the government for showing an interest in the issue, but they expressed reservations about the success of its implementation, as the local government and central government agencies have shown little interest in initiatives that may limit their power. (Keith Bradsher, China Releases Human Rights Plan, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Apr. 14, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/world/asia/15china.html.)