China's dialogue with the West on human rights: Is there any common ground?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


From the arrests of political dissidents, to the conflicts in Tibet, to the
Tiananmen Square Incident, and to the recent suppression of Falun Gong
practitioners, Western media have seldom failed to highlight China's alleged
human rights violations. To rectify China's "mistakes", Western developed
countries have put the topic of human rights on the agenda for trade and
economic cooperation talks, even though they also concede that trade and
human rights are two separate and distinct issues.
The dialogue on human rights has been going on at least since the
opening-up of China in the late 1970s. At the beginning, China either
denied any violations of human rights or defended its own practices. Western
accusations, all in all, were considered an interference with its internal
affairs, and consequently, a threat to its sovereignty. As time goes by,
China apparently has understood what developed countries have been aiming
at. Accordingly, China has shifted from the position of complete denial to
some sort of concession. That is, China has tried to improve its human
rights record, formulate legal rules protecting human rights in accordance with international conventions, and become increasingly active in
international human rights activities.
Nonetheless, the dialogue on human rights has not yet come to fruition.
Numerous causes, ranging from political to economic, can account for this
apparent failure. The main problem, however, seems to stem from the fact
that there are some fundamental differences in the Chinese and Western
views on human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReform, Legitimacy, and Dilemmas
Subtitle of host publicationChina's Politics and Society
EditorsWang Gungwu, Zheng Yongnian
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSingapore university press & World Scientific
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-4492-26-3
ISBN (Print)981-02-4441-X
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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