Post-Tiananmen: Authoritarian China’s Human Rights Flexibility
Looney, Kristen E.
Green, Michael J.
The human rights record of the People’s Republic of China has long been the subject of debate over the past few decades. The dichotomy of this controversy is crystal-clear: While the international human rights community, led by the United States and the Western democracies, has been finding issues with the Party-State’s problematic human rights policies using normative measures, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that human rights are but a domestic issue and has nearly rebuked all kinds of external interference. A more recent observation of this contestation, regarding the changing landscape of the international power order, suggests that, due to the rising Chinese economic and military capability and the relative decline of the current hegemon, the United States, domestic human rights violations in China will become less likely to be ameliorated by international engagement in the future. This paper, however, argues against the increasing pessimism among academia and governments toward the prospects of human rights conditions in China. Despite its long-term hard-liner posture on human rights issues, the CCP has taken a realist approach and demonstrated strategic flexibilities in dealing with those issues.
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