China has urged the international community to focus on the protection of the most vulnerable, including equitable vaccine distribution, to advance global human rights.
Li Xiaomei, Special Representative for Human Rights Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed the "principle of putting people first and life first" at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
During the coronavirus pandemic, China offered support, including vaccines, equipment and medical experts to more than 150 countries with a focus on the least developed. At the same time, some of the world's most wealthy countries were buying up more jabs than they needed for their populations.
Li insisted China would continue on this path and called on others "to pay equal attention to and protect all basic human rights, fully consider and accommodate the special situation and needs of vulnerable groups, and leave no one behind," according to a summary of his speech released by the Chinese mission to Geneva.
Other speakers at the session, which was organized as a result of a Chinese resolution last year, spoke up to express concern at the inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and to call for more support from ethnic minorities, the disabled, children and the elderly.
China has frequently complained that some members of the UNHRC are focused on interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, rather than what they can do to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable people.
At a separate event at the UNHRC, China's Jiang Duan accused the U.S. of responsibility for the deaths of 30,000 people in Afghanistan and said America had "looted" the country.