There can be few countries in the world that have faced more intense external criticism of their human rights record than the People's Republic of China. Indeed, in the eyes of many Western governments and human rights watchdog organizations, the words 'China', 'human rights' and 'abuses' are synonymous. In seeking to defend itself, the Chinese government has accused the West of imposing a distinctly liberal criterion of human rights on a country with a markedly different conception of the subject which is grounded in its own historical, cultural and philosophical background. This book explores the validity of such claims, paying particular attention to the state ideologies of Confucianism, Republicanism and Marxism. It is suggested that the joint influences of these doctrines helps to explain, amongst other things, the contemporary emphasis attached to socio-economic and collective rights in China, and the importance accorded to citizens' duties in relation to the exercise of their rights. The author also identifies a growing number of Western-influenced Chinese rights theorists whose ideas cautiously challenge the dominant government stance on the subject.

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