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China's and European Human Rights-Similarities and Differences
October 27,2014   By:CSHRS

Elisabeth STEINER

Austria

1. Differences between the Chinese and Western Tradition and Concepts of Human Rights

Human rights issues are indeed historical and cultural issues to a great extent. Every country's concepts of human rights are a reflection of its own tradition, culture, ideology and political system. As a result, Chinese and European concepts of human rights have distinctive value orientation and choices. The following provides an analysis of those different features.

The Chinese concepts of human rights are nurtured in the Rule of Rites/ Li (in Chinese), while the European concepts are established when the Rule of Law came into power. Since Confucius, Chinese culture started to develop with focus on the interaction and harmonization among people and the whole society. China adopted the Rule of Rites to protect the patriarchal clan system of the feudal society, basically advocating that all ranks inside the feudal ruling class should be satisfied with their posts and obey the code system. They hold that people are genuinely good by nature, and encourage them to put other's interest on the first and to behaviour in a virtuous manner. On the other hand, the European culture is more concerned with the natural person concept. The classical liberalists like John Locke, contended that the reason why people formed the society and then the State and established the government is to protect their people's life, rights and property. Therefore, no matter what the State and political system is, the State and its organs should run under the law and be checked. Accordingly, Chinese tend to consider their basic rights through a moral angle, but the European people are more willing to realise their human rights by a legal method.  Or we can say Chinese concepts of human rights emphasize on the transcendent life values and their fulfilment, while the European concepts focus on the practical effects and their realization.

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