China — Human Rights — Western criticism

In an article in The Wall Street Journal, 29th Jan 2010, Ian Buruma makes some observations about Chinese attitudes to human rights which are not in themselves themselves original but are pungently put and present the dilemma. Criticism of China’s appalling human rights record collides with Chinese nationalism and thus  only exacerbates an antagonism to human rights, which, as a concept, does not belong to the Chinese  tradition.

Thought control, in terms of imposing an official orthodoxy, is a very old tradition. The official glue that has long been applied to hold Chinese authority together is a kind of state dogma, loosely known as Confucianism, which is moral as well as political, stessing obedience to authority. … instilling the belief that obedience to authority is not just a way to keep order, but an essential part of being Chinese….the most common ideology since the 1990’s is a defensive nationalism, disseminated through museums, entertainment and school textbooks.

All Chinese school children are indoctrinated with the idea that China was humiliated for centuries and that support of the Chinese state is the only way for China to regain its greatness and never be humiliated again. That is why foreign criticism of Chinese politics, or Chinese infringements of human rights, is denounced by government officials as an attack on Chinese culture, as an attempt to ‘denigrate China’. And Chinese who agree with these foreign criticisms are treated not as dissidents but as traitors.

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 10:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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