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Realizing the Chinese Dream: Letting the Outside World Better Understand Chinese Stories and Chinese Voices on Human Rights
November 06,2014   By:

Realizing the Chinese Dream: Letting the Outside World Better Understand Chinese Stories and Chinese Voices on Human Rights 
Tom ZWART
The Netherlands

1. Introduction
This paper interprets the Chinese Dream as a call on Chinese human rights experts to share their ideas, theories and concepts more actively with their foreign counterparts. This interpretation is based on remarks made by General Secretary Xi Jinping during the National Conference on Publicity and Ideological Work on August 19th of last year. On that occasion, the General Secretary made clear that China should find innovative ways to make the outside world understand "stories of China and voices of China".  Therefore, Chinese experts should not keep their ideas and concepts in the area of human rights to themselves, but share them with others by bringing them to the international marketplace of ideas.
Such an active engagement with the outside world would not be the first time Chinese thought makes a vital contribution to the human rights discourse. Thus, during the eighteenth century, translations of Chinese texts, especially those of Confucius, inspired European Enlightenment philosophers to develop their ideas on human rights. This Chinese contribution to the development of human rights theory, which is not very well known in the West, will be discussed in section 2. In addition, the Chinese scholar, playwright and diplomat Peng Chun Chang (usually, and in this paper, referred to as P.C. Chang), again brought Chinese thought to the core of the human rights debate as one of the Founding Fathers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereafter: UDHR) in 1947-48. His role and contribution will be described in section 3. As will become clear in those sections, the Chinese involvement over time presents a logical continuum based on the notion of 'ren' or interconnectedness as part of the human rights debate. In section 4 some ideas will be put forward which can further this concept as part of an exercise to realise the Chinese Dream at the international level.
In this paper references to 'Confucianism' often are shorthand for Chinese thought, which of course also includes Daoism, Marxism and Buddhism. A distinction is being made between Southern states, which includes countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and Northern countries, which comprises Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.