Title

Double-Speaking Human Rights: Analyzing Human Rights Conception in Chinese Politics (1989-2015)

Author Information

Titus C. Chen
Chia-hao Hsu

Date of Publication

2018 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Human Rights

Keywords

human rights, international security, China, human security

Description

What does human rights mean to the Chinese government in the post-Tiananmen era? Has the way by which Beijing conceptualizes human rights changed over time? What policies and practices have Beijing’s human rights conception privileged or delegitimized? The article takes on these intriguing questions by analyzing human rights stories in the People’s Daily. The research applies the methods of text analytics and discourse analysis to shed light on the Party-state’s effort of incorporating and reformulating the idea of human rights. It is found that, since 1989, the Chinese government has developed two major conceptions of human rights. Throughout the 1990s, human rights had been understood mainly as a source of regime threat and insecurity, hence requiring containment and rejection. Beginning in the early 2000s, an alternative argument was constructed that conceptualizes human rights as the governing capacity of the Party-state, hence deserving reception and acclamation. The rights-as-capacity argument has developed side-by-side with the rights-as-threat conception, resulting in an illiberal and dualistic rights regime in Chinese politics.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Double-Speaking Human Rights: Analyzing Human Rights Conception in Chinese Politics (1989-2015)

What does human rights mean to the Chinese government in the post-Tiananmen era? Has the way by which Beijing conceptualizes human rights changed over time? What policies and practices have Beijing’s human rights conception privileged or delegitimized? The article takes on these intriguing questions by analyzing human rights stories in the People’s Daily. The research applies the methods of text analytics and discourse analysis to shed light on the Party-state’s effort of incorporating and reformulating the idea of human rights. It is found that, since 1989, the Chinese government has developed two major conceptions of human rights. Throughout the 1990s, human rights had been understood mainly as a source of regime threat and insecurity, hence requiring containment and rejection. Beginning in the early 2000s, an alternative argument was constructed that conceptualizes human rights as the governing capacity of the Party-state, hence deserving reception and acclamation. The rights-as-capacity argument has developed side-by-side with the rights-as-threat conception, resulting in an illiberal and dualistic rights regime in Chinese politics.