Home > PUBLICATIONS & RESOURCES > JOURNAL >

A Summary of the Seminar on “Construction of China’s Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era”
November 27,2018   By:CSHRS
A Summary of the Seminar on “Construction of China’s Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era”
 
SHENG Xi* & MAO Junxiang**
 
Abstract: A seminar on Construction of China’s Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era was held in Central South University (CSU) on April 12, 2018. The event was sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Publicity Department of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, and hosted by the CSU Research Center for Human Rights and the CSU School of Law. Nearly 70 experts and scholars in law, international relations, and communication from institutes of higher learning, research in-stitutions, and practical work departments from around the country shared their opinions on three topics: Cultivation of a Chinese Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era, Communication of the Chinese Human Rights Discourse in the New Era, and Chinese Human Rights Discourse and International Human Rights Governance in the New Era. They conducted an in-depth discussion on enhancing human rights self-confidence, grasping the characteristics of the new era and the general development trend, consolidating consensus between domestic and overseas human rights discourses, and effectively carrying out international human rights exchanges. Fully reflecting the in-depth thinking and insights of attending experts and scholars on the matter, the seminar effectively promoted the development of research on Construction of China’s human rights discourse system in the new era.
 
Keywords: the new era    human rights discourse    international human rights governance
 
A seminar on Construction of China’s Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era was held in Central South University (CSU) on April 12, 2018. Its purpose was to study in depth and implement Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era and the essence of the 19th CPC National Congress, profoundly interpret the human rights significance therein, advance the research and refinement of the new concept of human rights in China, construct a Chinese human rights discourse system in the new era, and enhance China’s discourse right on human rights. The event was sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Publicity Department of CPC Hunan Provincial Committee, and hosted by the CSU Research Center for Human Rights and CSU School of Law. The opening ceremony was chaired by Lu Guangjin, Secretary General of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, Qiangba Puncog, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress and president of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, Guo Weimin, Vice Minister of the State Council Information Office, Cai Zhenhong, member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee and director of the Publicity Department of CPC Hunan Provincial Committee, and Yi Hong, Secretary of the CPC Committee of CSU, attended the opening ceremony and delivered speeches. Other attendees at the opening ceremony included deputy director Zhou Nong of the Standing Committee of the Hunan Provincial People’s Congress. Nearly 70 experts and scholars in law, international relations and communication from universities, research institutions and practical work departments attended the meeting.
 
Qiangba Puncog stated in his speech that the establishment of a Chinese human rights discourse system in the new era must be based on the great practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, which should be an important foundation and ideological source for our success. At the same time, we must be more proactive in carrying out foreign exchanges and international communication on human rights to promote China’s human rights discourse in the international arena. Guo stressed in his keynote speech that to construct a Chinese human rights discourse system, efforts must be enhanced in four aspects: First, human rights self-confidence must be strengthened to firmly grasp the initiative of human rights discourse. Second, the discourse should be in line with the actual realities and development trend. Third, the achievements of human civilization could rally the consensus of human rights discourses of China and foreign countries. Fourth, active participation in international exchanges is a way to realize overseas promotion of Chinese human rights discourse.
 
The attending experts and scholars focused on the three topics comprising Cultivation of a Chinese Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era, Communication of the Chinese Human Rights Discourse in the New Era, Chinese Human Rights Discourse and International Human Rights Governance in the New Era. They made in-depth discussions on enhancing human rights self-confidence, grasping the characteristics of the new era and the general development trend, consolidating consensus between domestic and overseas human rights discourses, and effectively carrying out international human rights exchanges. The seminar fully reflected the profound thinking and insights of attending experts and scholars on constructing China’s human rights discourse system in the new era.
 
Ⅰ. Cultivation of a Chinese Human Rights Discourse System in the New Era
 
Construction of China’s human rights discourse system in the new era requires efforts from different angles through various channels. This is the basis for the undertaking. During the seminar, experts and scholars systematically expounded the theoretical basis for Construction of China’s human rights discourse system in the new era from the basic theoretical system on human rights, traditional Chinese culture, construction paths, cultivation dimension and specific rights. They explored the cultural origin of a Chinese human rights discourse system, put forward effective suggestions for its construction, and offered a targeted introduction to the specific practices.
 
A. The basic connotations and theoretical framework of the human rights discourse system: a systematic analysis
 
Construction of China’s human rights discourse system in the new era cannot be achieved in one fell swoop. One needs to start from the fundamental human rights theory, using the systematic theories to consolidate the foundation and provide guidance. In this regard, it is necessary to sort through the basic connotations and theoretical framework of the human rights discourse system. Regarding the discourse system, Professor Li Buyun, executive dean of the Institute of Human Rights at Guangzhou University and honorary member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), held that the discourse system should include human rights theory, human rights protection and institutions with Chinese characteristics, as well as achievements and the direction of future efforts. Only in this way can a system of human rights discourse be established, Li said. Professor Zhang Xiaoling, director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said that the socialist discourse system with Chinese characteristics should be a theoretical summary of the practical experience in building socialist human rights with Chinese characteristics, and a systematic theoretical encapsulation of the basic laws governing the construction of socialist human rights with Chinese characteristics. The objective foundation, basic principles, core concepts, and main viewpoints jointly constitute its basic connotations. Professor Yin Kuijie, dean of the School of Political Science and Law at Northeast Normal University, explored the internal and external structure of the human rights discourse system. He believed that the internal structure is the basic content of the human discourse system, including the historical, cultural and psychological elements of a country as well as ideology, economic and political development, legal events, values, human rights theory and other aspects. The external structure is the approach of discourse communication, mainly including the direct linguistic expression of textual content, mode of language expression and institutional expression of the human rights discourse system. The internal structural elements determine their external counterparts.
 
B. Exploring the Chinese elements of the human rights discourse system from the cultural perspective and its construction and deconstruction
 
Human rights is closely related to culture. The human rights discourse system is a dynamic system that can be continuously constructed and deconstructed under the impetus of cultural factors. Exploring the Chinese elements in the human discourse system from the cultural perspective is a prerequisite to promote the transformation and improvement of the human discourse system and construct a Chinese discourse system for human rights. On the construction of a human rights discourse system from a cultural perspective, Professor Zhou Gangzhi, executive director of the CSU Research Center for Cultural Law Studies, pointed out that the construction of a contemporary
 
Chinese discourse system for human rights should be based on traditional Chinese culture and its modern transformation. The refinement and advancing of the human rights discourse in traditional culture should not be limited to the existence of such expressions as “rights” and “human rights.” Instead, it must be based on the theoretical cornerstone, core essence, implementation mechanism and international concept of human rights theory. Dr. Hua Guoyu from People’s Public Security University of China started with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for exploring the basis of human rights. He believed that ren (which loosely translates as “benevolence”) is not the same as “conscience” in western philosophy. It is not purely individual liberalism; it emphasizes that human rights should be a consensus formed through practical consultation and accommodation of multiple understandings of different cultures. We must not only tap the factors of human rights from traditional Chinese culture, but also become proficient in the languages and cultures of other civilizations, and master important or core concepts in different knowledge systems, so as to bridge the gaps between cultures on human rights. Professor Zhu Liyu, executive director of the Human Rights Research Center at Renmin University, believes that the global human rights culture is homogeneous and diverse. The basic laws governing the development of human rights culture in different countries and nations are similar, but each has its own unique historical experience and conditions. They are mutually dependent and intertwined; they tend to converge yet differ from or even confront each other. The interpretation of the Chinese Confucian ren or liangxin (“conscience”) in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the embodiment of Chinese elements in the international human rights culture. Associate Professor Zhu Ying, deputy dean of the Institute of Human Rights at Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL), believes that the discourse on human rights is a manifestation of the same concept in a variety of forms based on value identity in the core circles of different cultures. Cultural values will form cultural discourse deviations on the argumentation logic for liberalism, Marxism, and traditional Chinese culture. However, underlying those all, there is precisely the core culture. After mastering the differences in the cul-tural discourse, the existing discourse system can be deconstructed, the Chinese model and the Chinese story proposed and strong and weak discourses established. Dr. Xiao Wu from the Institute of Human Rights at SWUPL explored the Chinese human rights perceptions and concepts from the perspective of virtue. He believes that since human rights are a public, universal concept, their interpretation should not rest with the West alone. To the Chinese public, there is perception of human rights as a virtue, and constructing a Chinese discourse system for human rights requires basic understanding of this perception.
 
C. Issues of concern and specific measures proposed for constructing a discourse system for human rights from the theoretical and practical levels
 
The power imbalance between the West and China is still prevalent in the current discourse on human rights, as the West is overwhelming. To change this situation and to raise the voice of China in the discourse on human rights, we must draw on systematic human rights theory for guidance. We must also understand the key issues of concern in the undertaking, address complex relationships at all levels, and propose specific countermeasures. Professor Zhang Yonghe, executive director of the Human Rights Research Institute at SWUPL, pointed out that the construction of the logic for the discourse on human rights should not only deal with the inherent logic, and the relationship between discourse and discourse elements, but also develop links with other external theoretical systems, including political, social, and philosophical theories. In addition, consistency must be maintained with political and social practice, and inspirations drawn from practice. Only in this way can a true discourse system be established rather than one that is incoherent and fragmented. Professor Yin Kuijie, dean of the School of Political Science and Law at Northeast Normal University, also proposed that to establish the Chinese discourse on human rights in the new era, the emphasis should be on rationally incorporating the positive content of the Chinese human rights culture, and strengthening the systematicness and openness of the human rights discourse. Meanwhile, the relationship between the various elements of the human rights discourse system should be properly addressed. Professor Xian Kailin, executive director of the Center for Human Rights Research and Education at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, proposed three dimensions for cultivating a Chinese discourse system on human rights. First is the construction of a Chinese human rights theory; second is raising China’s profile in the discourse on human rights; third is the inheritance of Chinese culture, which necessitates efforts in three aspects. First, we must explore the concept of human rights in traditional Chinese culture. Second, we must study the cultural genes in China’s excellent cultural traditions. Third, we must promote the essence of human rights civilization in traditional Chinese culture.
 
Professor Liu Zhiqiang from the Institute of Human Rights at Guangzhou University shared his insights and specific suggestions on overseas promotion of Chinese human rights discourse from six aspects: background, concepts, principles, structural framework, expression and function. He believes that, in terms of the theoretical guidelines, overseas dissemination of Chinese view and experience of human rights in the new era must draw on socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics as the guiding ideology. In principle, the human rights discourse must be integrated into the framework of building win-win international relations and constructing a community of human destiny. In expression, non-governmental dissemination, academic dissemination and the official dissemination must be integrated to publicize the Chinese discourse on human rights. Professor Zhao Shukun from the Institute of Human Rights at SWUPL believes that to express human rights norms in a Chinese way while constructing a Chinese discourse system for human rights, there are three approaches. The first is to adhere to the dialogue mechanism for human rights. The second is to insist on the criticism of human rights discourse from a postmodern stance. However, discourse criticism should be based on logic and facts. The third is self-shaping based on the human rights discourse in traditional Chinese culture. It is necessary to do so by transforming the transcendent resources of traditional Chinese culture into the core of the Chinese theory of human rights.
 
D. Specific practice in cultivating the discourse system for human rights from the perspective of specific rights
 
“Legal conviction” and “conventional practice” are two main elements in the formation of international customary laws. It is also an important part of constructing China’s discourse system on human rights to make a difference in the trajectory of changes in international human rights law through constant practices. Construction of such a system requires both theoretical guidance and practical support. On the one hand, we must continue to learn from the practice and provide feedback to the theory, to promote theoretical sublimation, which in turn guides practice, thus forming a virtuous circle of mutual enhancement between theory and practice. On the other hand, through continuous practice, we can test the Chinese concepts and values on human rights, strengthen and enrich human rights concepts that can effectively promote hu-man rights protection, and constantly supplement the Chinese elements in the human rights discourse system. Regarding specific practice, Associate Professor Meng Qingtao, deputy dean of the Institute of Human Rights at SWUPL, discussed the Chinese expression of the right to development. He focused on a white paper issued by the Chinese government—The Right to Development: China’s Philosophy, Practice and Contribution—and concluded that the formal expression of the discourse for the right to development presents a formal change from indirect reference to direct presentation to equality with and consequently superiority to the right to subsistence, before being systematically clarified. Professor Zhang Wanhong, deputy dean of the Human Rights Research Institute of Wuhan University, studied the process of evolution in the discourse for the rights of the disabled. He pointed out that from the establishment of the China Disabled Persons Welfare Fund in 1984 to that of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation in 1988, the discourse had witnessed a transition from canfei ( 残废 , “disability” in a mostly offensive way as fei means completely useless) to canji ( 残疾 , as ji means someone has a disability but is not necessarily “useless”). In 2008, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted and ratified. In the text, the concept of “disability” was used, but no definition was offered. And that marked another change. Judge Li Xiao, deputy inspector of the Research Office of the Supreme People’s Court, summarized the discourse power on judicial human rights and its influence in four aspects: judicial transparency, independence, institutional building and international exchange and cooperation. She introduced the four public platforms established by the Supreme People’s Court for case-hearing processes, reviews, verdict documents and execution information, and pointed out that the Constitution of China and the three major procedural laws clearly stipulate that the people’s court independently exercises judicial power without any intervention. She added that reform of the hearing-oriented litigation system has been centered on safeguarding human rights. The Supreme People’s Court has also established friendly relations with the supreme judicial organs of more than 140 countries and regions and 18 international and regional organizations, and signed cooperative agreements with 36 countries. It has strengthened contacts with various international organizations to actively implement international judicial assistance, and improved Chinese judicial standards by participating in international treaty negotiations and formulation of international rules.
 
Ⅱ. The Communication of Chinese Discourse on Human Rights in the New Era
 
The Chinese discourse on human rights in the new era should include international and domestic communication. Enhancing the public’s awareness of human rights and strengthening the foundation for the discourse on human rights in China. International communication will accelerate the acceptance of China’s human rights ideas and values, enhance the mutual understanding and reference of human rights concepts for different civilizations and cultures, effectively expand the consensus on human rights, and reduce the deviations in human rights perceptions. Therefore, in constructing China’s discourse system on human rights in the new era, we must cultivate the discourse, and from there, focus on its communication. That is the key to the undertaking. The participating scholars discussed in detail and analyzed in depth the background for the dissemination of the Chinese discourse on human rights, the causes of China’s passive status in the communication, and made recommendations for publicizing Chinese viewpoint on human rights.
 
A. International and domestic background for the communication of Chinese human rights discourse in the new era
 
There are two approaches for the communication of the human rights discourse: horizontal (overseas) publicity and vertical (domestic) publicity. In order to effectively communicate the Chinese discourse on human rights, we need to fully grasp the current international and domestic background, analyze the status quo, achievements, priorities and difficulties to be overcome. Knowledge about ourselves and others can help us gain the advantage in communication, master the dominant position, and truly enhance the power of the Chinese discourse on human rights. In this regard, the Coun-sellor (equals to the Deputy Director level) Tang Haijun of the Research Office of the International Liaison Department of the CPC Central Committee observed that, more than 20 years of rapid economic development and transformation in other aspects have created a world scene conducive to better promotion of Chinese human rights. However, ideology is still an important factor largely restricting the international communication of our human rights and the construction and communication of our discourse. Dr. Song Jianing, lecturer at Tianjin Polytechnic University, analyzed the status quo of the communication of the right to development and that of the Chinese discourse on human rights from the perspective of South-South cooperation on climate change. She pointed out that the Chinese government has begun to include the right to development or corresponding theory in its foreign aid. Throughout the specific implementation process, China has spread the human rights discourse with Chinese characteristics and the right to development in an unobtrusive way. Director Zhu Boying of Regional Broadcasting Center for Western Europe and Latin America at China Radio International pointed out that the new era brings opportunities and challenges to China’s human rights outreach. On the one hand, Western countries denounce China’s human rights situation by fully exploiting individual cases for values consistent with their own human rights philosophy. Western media cleverly use individual cases to spread their values by criticizing China’s human rights situations and, therefore, mislead the international audience. On the other hand, domestic mainstream media have strengthened their awareness of human rights reporting, investigation, and perspectives. The quality of their reports has been improving, and their influence is expanding. Director Ning Shuguang of Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies at China Foreign Language Publishing Administration pointed out that Western media has played a very important role in transforming Western ideas into the human rights discourse. They have described and criticized human rights in China through specific people and cases, and most of their reports on human rights in China have a political agenda. However, in recent years, China has also actively aired its voice and published many reports and white papers on human rights, and proposed the human rights concept of a community with a shared future for all mankind. The international public opinion on China is slowly becoming favorable. Bu Wei, researcher at the CASS Institute of Journalism and Communication, believed that both domestic and overseas communication are cross-cultural. In domestic communication, we are faced with many challenges from traditional feudal culture and customs. In bringing our voice of human rights to the outside world, we are faced with the Cold War mentality and the challenge of stereotyped impression on China’s development.
 
B. Passive status in spreading the Chinese discourse on human rights: internal and external factors
 
Western countries have always held a dominant position in global discourses, including the one on human rights. However, such dominance does not necessarily mean that Western human rights concepts and values are universal or that we must fully accept them. In Chinese culture, there are also human rights traditions. To improve China’s human rights discourse, we need to include these human rights concepts and values into the international human rights discourse, and strengthen their communication in practice. However, in view of the current weak position of China in the international discourse on human rights, we must analyze the internal and external causes, before targeted solutions can be proposed and the practical problems in external communication can be effectively solved. In this regard, Director Zhang Yi of the Political and Cultural Department of People’s Daily held that the dominance of the West in the human rights discourse scan be attributed to three factors. First, ideological conflict; second, the West had a head start in the construction of a human rights theory and discourse, and this enabled it to occupy the dominant position, while the Chinese discourse systems and theoretical systems have borrowed things from the West. Third, there is Western superiority in the discourse system in many fields. Director Ning pointed out that the international opinion environment for human rights is full of misunderstandings, prejudice and abnegation against China. The main reason is the difference in concepts and insufficient understanding of the situation in China. Defamation is mostly because of the ideological differences between China and the West, and the West has always used ideology as a political tool to put pressure on China. Director Zhu Boying of Regional Broadcasting Center for Western Europe and Latin America at China Radio International believes that the human rights field is a key battlefield for China and those international forces opposed to China’s rise. However, for a long time, China has been cautious in its reports on human rights. In many cases, overseas reports on Chinese human rights were mostly responses to Western media reports, but these passive responses have not been powerful additions to the Chinese voice.
 
C. Suggestions on domestic and foreign communication of the Chinese discourse on human rights
 
To strengthen the communication of Chinese human rights discourse in the new era, we need to unify its expression, expand the domestic and foreign communication channels, break through the limitations of the existing human rights discourse, establish a cohesive Chinese human rights discourse and focus on tackling key issues, to comprehensively advance the undertaking, and put forward feasible suggestions. We should do so on the basis of grasping the international and domestic background and studying China’s passive position in the communication of human rights discourse. In this regard, Professor Chang Jian from the Human Rights Research Center of Nankai University proposed from the perspective of the discourse expression of the human rights theory system that a discourse should be able to maintain open communication, and break through the constraints of its existing discourse power. Discourse expression can be influential, because it is the fusion of forces, and should be expanded through a question-and-answer approach. Deputy director Liu Rongrong of China International Cultural Communication Center at Xinhua News Agency proposed that we should try our best to create a values convergence point in human rights communication. In telling the story of human rights in China, we should “enhance the perspective and specify the narration” to actively explore the latest expressions for the international human rights discourse. An “expert consultation” team should be established for China's human rights discourse, and emphasis put on combination of theoretical research with journalitics practice, discourse innovation with topic setting, and specific reports with effect tests. Deng Xiaosong, director of the Editorial Department of the Network Media Center of Intercontinental Communication Center, proposed that media communication on human rights discourse system should be strengthened with “best content” and a “platform re-engineering.” The former includes targeted human rights work, such as a series of documentaries and reports on human rights and gun cases in the United States. Represented by the bilingual “one website, two clients” as well as Facebook and Twitter campaigns, the latter includes the construction of databases for human rights experts, human rights abuse photos, Western cases on human rights and human rights stories. Associate Professor Li Lei from Sichuan University School of Law proposed that China should follow communication principles and highlight their use in fostering human rights discourse. In strengthening the Chinese discourse on human rights, we must take the initiative. Different opinions must be treated positively. We can’t just ignore something just because we think it doesn’t deserve our attention. Professor Zhao Yonghua from the School of Journalism at Renmin University of China pointed out that the Chinese stories on human rights should be communicated through various forms and channels, and public diplomacy activities should be launched. The role of the news media is to do a good job in telling the story of human rights in China. Efforts must be enhanced to improve the practice and theoretical research. Only then can we tell the story of China in a clear, intelligible manner. Director Zhu argued that in covering human rights, the native language of the target country should be used to objectively and comprehensively tell the story of the ordi-nary Chinese people, and keep consistency for all external publicity campaigns. To tell the story of China in the new era, we must cover human rights cases in the United States and Western countries in daily reports.
 
Ⅲ. The Chinese Discourse on Human Rights and International Human Rights Governance in the New Era
 
To construct a Chinese discourse system on human rights in the new era, we must make use of the human rights sources in traditional Chinese culture, cultivate China’s theory system on human rights, export its human rights values and concepts, and pro-mote the mutual understanding of human rights among different cultures and civilizations to further promote and protect human rights, on the one hand. On the other hand, we must balance the human rights discourses, amend unreasonable international standards on human rights, reconstruct the international framework for protecting human rights, and actively participate in international human rights governance as a main creator of international rules for human rights protection. In constructing the Chinese discourse system on human rights in the new era, participation in international human rights governance is essential. The participating experts discussed the theoretical basis and specific practices of China's participation in international human rights governance, briefly reviewed the history and the current background of human rights discourse in China, and provided experience and suggestions for China to participate in international human rights governance and promote the Chinese discourse on human rights.
 
A. The theoretical basis and specific practice of China in international human rights governance
 
To construct a Chinese discourse system on human rights in the new era does not mean entirely eradicating the dominant Western system, or vandalizing the international human rights governance system. Instead, it aims at turning China from a passive receiver and participant in the international human rights governance system to an active builder and contributor. While promoting the overall development of domestic human rights, we must draw on the rapid development of the global human rights and contribute Chinese methods and Chinese wisdom to international human rights governance. Effective participation in international human rights governance requires a comprehensive analysis and full grasp of the possible theoretical and practical problems. On the theoretical level, Professor Wang Jinyuan from Southeast University School of Law reflected on the current theories on international human rights cooperation and pointed out that the current writings of scholars on international human rights law have mainly focused on theoretical issues such as realism, liberalism and Marxist human rights cooperation. However, the human rights cooperation of liberalism and realism is, in the final analysis, the hegemonic theory of Western countries. It advo-cates universal values and neglects the differences in the systems and methods for realizing human rights in different countries. Professor Wang Xigen, executive dean of the Human Rights Research Institute at Wuhan University, believes that the construction of the discourse system requires overall planning at the macrolevel, and that a series of pressing problems should be addressed with regard to sources, people, rights, forms, approaches, values, culture and realization. On the practical level, Professor Wang Xiumei from Northwest University of Political Science and Law (NWUPL) explored the social responsibility of enterprises from the perspective of human rights diplomacy. She held that in responding to the pressure of the external order in international trade and the promotion of strengthening corporate social responsibility by external social forces for, the Chinese business community has gradually mastered the human rights discourse, in large part thanks to industrial associations. In addition, the government is also one of the main driving forces. The Chinese government participated in the drafting of ISO26000. After the release of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, China was the first country in the world to develop a national program for sustainable development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China issued a Chinese position paper on the sustainable development agenda.
 
B. Review of China’s participation in international human rights governance and the current background
 
Participation in international human rights governance requires an understand-ing of China’s history and current situation in international human rights governance, so as to understand its position in the undertaking, learn its consistent human rights claims, demonstrate its purposes in the undertaking, reduce cognitive deviation between the East and West, eliminate Western misunderstandings of its participation in international human rights governance and enhance domestic self-confidence in human rights. Only by doing so can we better promote the comprehensive and rapid development of human rights in China and the world. Zhao Jianwen, researcher and director of the Teaching Research Office of International Human Rights Law from the CASS Institute of International Law, reviewed China’s human rights discourse at the United Nations. He pointed out that between 1949 and 1972, China voiced its opinions on human rights at the United Nations and other multilateral occasions. In formulating the UN Charter, the Chinese government submitted written proposals for including human rights protection and racial equality. In that stage as well as during the preparations of the United Nations, China already had a human rights discourse, and most of its claims were about human rights. Zhang Sisi, third secretary of the International Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out that, since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has achieved remarkable results in human rights cooperation under the guidance of General Secretary Xi’s diplomatic ideology with Chinese characteristics. Its right to speak and set the agenda in the international human rights field has been enhanced. China has made major breakthroughs in international human rights governance, new achievements in defending national sovereignty, new results in fulfilling international obligations, new measures for foreign exchanges in human rights, and new progress in promoting human rights discourse. Liu Huawen, researcher and executive director of the CASS Research Center for Human Rights, also pointed out that there is a deficit in international governance, which in fact requires China to make its voice heard. The national conditions of China have changed tremendously, a substantial factor that should prompt China to make a difference. China is opposed to the discourse hegemony of Western human rights, but it maintains and supports the human rights standards of the United Nations. Therefore, we, China, is a participant, builder and contributor in international human rights governance. Li Chunlin, Professor of Fuzhou University School of Law pointed out that we must accurately determine the function of the right to development in building a community with a shared future for all mankind. It is of great significance for this ideology to be included in a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council. It indicates that China has begun to seek international fairness and justice and reform of the global governance system based on the protection of international human rights, especially the right to development (instead of sovereign equality). Professor Li Erping, director of Human Rights Research Center at Kunming University of Science and Technology, pointed out that building a community with a shared future for human beings and global human rights governance marks a new stage in constructing the Chinese discourse on human rights. Under the leadership of the new government, Chinese discourse for human rights is expanding its outreach to the world.
 
C. China’s participation in international human rights governance and suggestions for promoting the Chinese discourse on human rights
 
Strengthening the Chinese discourse on human rights in the new era and participating in international human rights governance are to some extent tantamount to establishing China’s status as one of the major planners of the future international framework for human rights protection. Experience and advice in various forms and from various sources are needed to jointly formulate international rules on human rights protection and reduce the deficit in the transfer of human rights concepts and values as well as resist unwarranted and malicious defamation of our human rights by the West. In this regard, Professor Li Erping, director of Human Rights Research Center at Kunming University of Science and Technology, analyzed the right to speak of the human rights discourse of China and the West, and summed up three points of experience from Asian values. First, we must approach human rights in English and use English to describe them. Second, the emergence of the right to speak in human rights requires the cooperation of multiple parties. Third, the tremendous achieve-ments made by China in human rights protection can be used as the hard power of its human rights discourse. Professor Chen Youwu, deputy dean of the Institute of Human Rights at Guangzhou University, proposed that, to participate in international human rights governance and promote international human rights discourse, we must first learn the content of the discourse rights of Western human rights. We must also study the relationship of Western economic, social and cultural development with the construction and impact of Western human rights discourse, as well as the historical development, main content and problems of the right to speak in the Chinese human rights discourse. The norm naming “community with a shared future for humam beings” is the latest achievement in the development of China’s human rights theory. We must integrate it into the construction of human rights discourse and the theoretical system, education, mainstream international awareness and global governance system. Professor He Zhipeng, executive director of the Center for Human Rights Education and Research at Jilin University, proposed that in the context of the mainstream discourse still being dominated by the West, we should first recognize and skillfully use the Western discourse itself to speak to people in the West. In recognizing the common pursuit of human beings in Western discourse, we can add what we think is right. Besides, in shaping the right to speak of human rights in China for theoretical construction, we must launch criticism and reflection and pursue gradual development on the basis of inheritance. Professor Wang Jinyuan from Southeast University School of Law proposed the use of democratic consultation as the theoretical fulcrum for international human rights cooperation. He held that compared with traditional liberal democracy, deliberative democracy can reduce or eliminate discourse hegemony, and avoid the fate of being an anonymous audience. He added that deliberative democracy can be promoted in a dynamic way. In studying the human rights discourse system in China, we must fully reflect and draw on the theory of deliberative democracy. Lu Zhi’an, associate professor and executive deputy director of the Human Rights Research Center at Fudan University, believes that the human rights discourse can be gradually strengthened by setting the agenda of human rights issues. The construction of the international human rights discourse must follow unified standards, highlight interconnection, pursue consistence between human rights claims, human rights facts, and factual interpretation. Professor Sun Pinghua of China University of Political Science and Law also proposed that in global governance, China should follow the three-dimensional and two-in-one approach in constructing its discourse system for human rights. Ancient and overseas experience must be drawn on, theory must be combined with practice, and international standards be integrated with Chinese standards so as to systematically review the human rights factors contained in traditional Chinese culture and the historical contributions and realistic achievements of China.
 
This seminar was useful attempt by the Chinese academia to highlight the combination of theory with practice in conducting interdisciplinary research in human rights discourse. Its theme displayed the trends of our day. The delegates from diverse backgrounds were engaged in fruitful exchanges, each contributing their own wisdom. The seminar achieved fruitful results and will surely promote the development of the Chinese discourse on human rights in the new era.

* SHENG xi ( 盛喜 ), assistant Researcher at CSU Human Rights Research Center.
 
** MAO Junxiang (毛俊响), executive director at CSU Human Rights Research Center, associate dean and professor of the CSU School of Law.
 
(Translated by QIAN Chuijun)
 
Chinese Dictionary:

@cn_humanrights

For the latest news and analysis from our

reporters and editors:Staff Twitter List>>

E-mail:chinahrs@public.bta.net.cn