In an article on the BBC website this week, China’s president Hu Jintao stated that, “a lot still needs to be done in China over human rights” when speaking at a conference with President Obama. Seeing those key words, “human rights” while browsing the website, I naturally clicked the link. However, I was slightly surprised at how vague and general the discussion was when talking about these “human rights” that supposedly need to be worked on in China. The only time that these human rights were expressly talked about in the article was when President Obama stated, “I believe part of justice and part of human rights is people being able to make a living and having enough to eat and having shelter and having electricity.” Furthermore, President Obama went on to say that, “We just want to make sure that [China’s] rise occurs in a way that reinforces international norms, international rules, and enhances security and peace, as opposed to it being a source of conflict.”
My question when reading the article was is this actually a human rights issue? When thinking about “human rights” I usually default to ideas of torture or the right to life. I guess I do not readily think that poverty is a human rights violation, in the way that the article seems to be making it out to be. However, as we read in “The History of Human Rights,” “Article 22 of the Universal Declaration stipulates that each human possesses ‘economic, social, and cultural rights… indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality” (Ishay 35). If the human right in question is a right to be lifted from poverty, then this could potentially fit into an economic right. However, I was hesitant to believe that these people in China do not have the ability to “pick-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps,” if you will, and change their economic standings. Granted, I do not know enough about China’s economy to suppose a definitive statement on the matter, so I would rather ask you guys. Do you think this issue of the rise from poverty in China is actually a human rights issue? Furthermore, are there really limitations being put upon these citizens that hinder them from attaining this “right”? Moreover, is it acceptable that the United States Government has stepped in on this issue? I find it curious that our country feels the need to watch over China, which is such a powerful country in itself, as if it were a child in need of reprimand. Are we actually justified in our interests here?
Here's the link to the article.