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China, US starts formal human rights dialogue in Washington

05-14-2010 08:28 BJT

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China and the United States have started a formal human rights dialogue in Washington. This round of dialogue is the 15th in the past 20 years. Wang Guan takes a look at what's behind the different perceptions on the issue of what constitutes human rights, and how the current dialogue will help advance bilateral ties.

As the world's largest developing country, improving human rights by raising people's living standards have been a priority in China.

From abolishing the thousand-year-old agricultural tax for 800 million farmers to making their children's elementary education free..

From mobilizing all resources during major disasters to having an unprecedented number of its citizens now travelling or studying in the the country of their choice... China has worked to expand the rights of its people.

However, China has often found itself at odds with the west with regard to the human rights situation, especially with the United States. What is at the root of these differences?

Rong Ying, SR Research fellow of China Institute of Int'l Studies, said, "We are facing the task of developing ourselves, improving the living standards of the Chinese people. The question of human rights in China is more about the right to subsistence. While in the west, they are advocating the issue of human rights. I think that's more ideology-based."

The human rights dialogue between China and the US first started back in the 1990s and has been on-again-off-again ever since. During US President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing last November, the two leaders agreed to resume the dialogue after a two year suspension. Experts say this round of talk marks a new beginning.

Rong Ying said, "That is, human rights is AN issue but it is not THE issue. The dialogue will help the two sides understand each other's conditions much better."

On Thursday, the foreign ministry also commented positively on the renewed dialogue.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said, "Dialogue is always better than confrontation. We believe this kind of communication will help boost bilateral ties and play a positive role in help the two countries understand each other better."

The Foreign Ministry adds that equality and mutual respect will be the basis for bilateral talks on the issue of human rights.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source: CCTV.com

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