The Minutiae of Progress

Sometimes progress may be more than slow and hard to notice, but it’s there—Last Monday a Chinese delegation led by Ambassador Li Baodong appeared before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was a first. It told the council that people in China could voice their opinions and that the government opposes torture. In a statement before the proceedings the Chinese emphasized that human rights are related to economic growth and went on to say that the standard of living has improved, so have the judicial system and political participation. Many argue with the delegation’s presentation to the council and point to many facts painting a dismal picture of human rights in China. And yet the very fact they would agree to make this historic appearance before the UN body and answer their questions is, at the very least, worth notice. Progress is slow, comes by the millimeter, and is not always in a straight line. What matters is that it comes. One must say the Chinese delegation sent to Geneva is a good sign.
Later that week the Chinese government barred foreigners from traveling to regions with large Tibetan populations, given the approaching 50th anniversary of Tibet’s failed rebellion. There will surely be other news items somehow restricting people’s freedom. And yet none will undo the tiny progress represented by the agreement to answer the questions of the UN Human Rights Council.