The Sino-U.S. human rights dialogue has been held yesterday and today. This dialogue began in 1990, with several interruptions, and has continued for 21 years. The human rights dialogue has never formed a satisfying true forum for both sides; instead, it has become a place which has demonstrated that both countries just cannot come to agreements in terms of values and politics. Often times, it also has been an occasion where both countries’ national interests collide.
The U.S. has always been aggressive. On the eve of this round of human rights dialogue, it was reported that the U.S. presented a long list of prisoners and demanded China that these individuals be released. In the past the U.S. also brought up such requests frequently, and criticized China as to why China had not done it.
China hopes that it is a serious dialogue; through such exchange, that both sides can understand the meaning of human rights as defined by each other’s vision; and that both sides can resolve diplomatic conflicts caused by disagreements in values. China emphasizes equality, so that learning any experience also has to be conducted in an equal environment.
The Sino-U.S. human rights dialogue should not become a “negotiation.” The prerequisite of a dialogue is that one side should not consider that it has the right to lecture the other side; therefore, Chinese persistence is justified. Because China is a sovereign state, there is zero possibility that China will allow the U.S. to draft and arrange China’s political process. If the U.S. places the use of pressure as its starting position in its dialogue with China, it is destined that the dialogue will never make any progress.
The U.S. government often makes it a diplomatic gesture when it presses on China’s human rights, or uses it as an response to radical public opinions in the country, and hopes that China can “cooperate.” However, it is obvious that Beijing is not in obligation to perform along with Washington. Such acts should especially not damage China’s social stability, as it is China’s core interest.
China’s human rights progressed rapidly in recent years; just around the same time, there were frequent human rights dialogues between China and the U.S., as well as between China and Europe. We don’t think the pressure from the West only has negative impact on China because any impacts from outside forces are all very complicated. But such pressure is apparently twisting the relationships between China and the West. If the West think that they are the main force which has pushed China’s human rights moving forward, such conclusion would also not stand. China’s human rights have improved because the society has moved forward in all aspects as a result of opening up and reform.
Usually individual Americans are very gentle and polite, but the U.S. as a country often exhibits aggressiveness in its attitude during dialogues. Besides having confidence at its own values, a strong sense of superiority associated with Western centrism also accelerates such divergence. It also has encouraged Western media’s blind accusations against China’s human rights and has suppressed individual Americans’ interest in understanding China’s values and its national conditions.
If the West insists on a negotiating and lecturing attitude when having human rights dialogue with China, then such dialogue will eventually become a set-up just like the guard exchange ceremony in front of the Buckingham Palace in London. But in fact the Chinese society has a desire to sincerely communicate with the West. Market economy has brought new issues in related to human rights in China, but China would not simply go to two opposite extremes — rejecting foreign experiences or copying Western ideas. China is a country which is good at maintaining its own identity while learning and assimilating. Otherwise, Chinese civilization would not have continued for thousands of years within the unity of opposites in terms of transformation and steadfastness.
The West should take notice of the fact that most Chinese people resent the West applying pressure on the human rights issue. This cannot be interpreted as a result of China’s state propaganda because nowadays, information and resources on the Internet are so developed. Chinese society’s vigilance has been fabricated by the West; therefore, if Western capitals such as Washington are not interested in untying this knot, they should be aware that China would never work on behalf of the West for something that the West should make efforts to do.
Hopefully, the Sino-U.S. human rights dialogue will become a friendly dialogue between different civilizations. In the past civilizations always competed among each other for superiority vs. failure. If a precedent of mutual understanding, even sincere learning, can be established between the cultures, then the Sino-U.S. human rights dialogue will make unexpected contributions to history.
Translated By Pak Ng
28 April 2011
Edited by Gillian Palmer
China – Huanqiu – Original Article (Chinese)