Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Rights Beyond BordersThe Global Community and the Struggle over Human Rights in China$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Rosemary Foot

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198297765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198297769.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2020

Betting on the Long Term, 1998–1999

Betting on the Long Term, 1998–1999

(p.224) 8 Betting on the Long Term, 1998–1999
Rights Beyond Borders

Rosemary Foot (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

All governments involved in the human rights struggle in China could claim certain policy successes by 1998: for the democracies, there was the release of a few Chinese dissidents, a visit to China by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, some reinforcement of the language of universality of rights and China's signature of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and the starting or restarting of dialogues. On Beijing's part, its efforts to publicize the new legal codes and punish those who failed to observe the legal changes demonstrated a willingness to tackle the problems associated with implementation, and it could reassure the more nationalist elements among its domestic public that UN condemnation would now cease, and that it would be engaged in mutual exchanges on human rights with its international counterparts. The Chinese leadership also appeared to have had some success in convincing various international actors of the need to correct the supposed imbalance in attention on civil and political rights, to one that focused more on the right to development and economic, social, and cultural rights. The fragility of this process was demonstrated far sooner than any had predicted, however, with a distinct chill in the Chinese political climate emerging by the end of 1998. Many Chinese, mostly academics, continued to publish and debate various aspects of the law and human rights and use international standards as a basis for their arguments, but more organized challenges were swiftly clamped down upon, especially 10 years after Tiananmen that encouraged reflection on the Party's record. These repressive acts exposed the shallowness of the roots of the new legal codes, the narrow limits of political tolerance, and the relative lack of importance that the state attached to human rights protection when Party control was at stake. They also uncovered the weaknesses in the bilateral dialogue route. Yet any concrete moves to respond directly to the political oppression via a condemnatory resolution at the UN Commission provoked a Chinese threat to break off the bilateral dialogues, and indeed China did break off its dialogue with the USA, partly as a result of Washington's decision to co‐sponsor (with Poland only) a resolution at the 1999 meeting of the UN Commission and more overtly as a consequence of the accidental NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. The overall cooling in relations with the USA for a large part of 1999 occurred as a result of this UN resolution, the failure to resolve the WTO entry issue, and the bypassing of the UN Security Council as a result of China's known disapproval of international intervention in Kosovo. NATO bombing of the province at the time of President Jiang Zemin's tour of Europe, together with the Belgrade embassy incident in May, led to a resurgence of Chinese rhetoric against the hegemonic USA interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states on the specious grounds of a norm of humanitarian intervention.

Keywords:   bilateral dialogue, bombing of the Chinese embassy, China, hegemonic USA, human rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Kosovo, relations with USA, repression, rights, UN Commission, universality of rights, WTO entry

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .