Each country should have the right to choose the priority in human rights issues according to its own national conditions, said an expert.

Zhang Weiwei, director of the China Institute of Fudan University, shared his insights on the human rights issues in both western and eastern countries at the invitation of the 2021 South-South Human Rights Forum, which opened in Beijing on Wednesday.

According to Zhang, the human rights defined by the United Nations mainly refer to political, civil rights, and economic, social, and cultural rights. It is a relatively complete system. Yet many western countries only emphasize part of it.

“Many western countries often only emphasize political and civil rights in its foreign exchanges, while ignoring economic, social and cultural rights. The United States does not even regard these latter three rights as human rights. In this regard, the U.S. is particularly backward. Many European countries couldn’t even stand it.

The United States have the most human rights issues among Western countries according to the standards set by the United Nations, rather than the narrow human rights standards set by the United States itself,” said Zhang.

Zhang said the exercise of human rights should follow each countryĆ¢’s own conditions, and China has done well in this regard.

“While realizing human rights in practice, each country should have the right to choose the correct order of priority according to its own national conditions. No country can realize all human rights at the same time. Practice has proved that China achieved great success by prioritizing people-oriented, poverty eradication, and modernization as the core of its human rights. The wrong order of priority often leads to poor effects. Many developing countries have tried political power overriding everything under the guidance of the western system, but the results have been disappointing,” he said.

Zhang also said that faced with multiple global challenges today, countries should work together in dealing with human rights issues.

“In dealing with human rights issues, it will be commendable if all countries can sincerely exchange experiences, learn from each other’s strengths, and go hand in hand. In particular, the many challenges brought about by globalization in the 21st century, from climate warming to the prevention and control of the COVID-19, can only be faced through cooperation between countries,” he said.

Themed “putting people first and global human rights governance,” the forum is jointly hosted by China’s State Council Information Office and the Chinese Foreign Ministry.