Neoliberal Civilization and the Economic Disciplining of Human Rights: Convergent Models in the United States and China

Tina Chen and David Churchill

[1] In the aftermath of September 11th commentators, journalists and scholars were quick to opine that the world had changed, that the world had entered a new historical moment and that our lives would never be the same. The material and symbolic evidence of this new order was the burning collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, icons of the hegemony of American capital and the globalization of that capital. But what are the contours of this new historical time? What is the vision of civilization that the United States and its Western allies are advancing since the terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon and the initiation of the so-called "War on Terrorism"? What is the role of human rights in this vision? And what place does China have in this order? Because the prosecution of the War on Terrorism is being conducted on numerous fronts and through a variety of means, we argue that the current vision of civilization cannot be understood outside the context of new legislation in the US and other Western countries that dramatically curtails civil liberties and against the backdrop of the evolving neoliberal economic order.

[2] In the days before September 11th and in the week that followed, another event of material and symbolic importance was taking place. This was the final negotiation for the entry of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization (WTO), ultimately ratified in Qatar during November of 2001. The symbolism of the WTO meetings being held in Qatar, a country that does not allow freedom of assembly or political demonstration, as well as the accession of China to the WTO, is profound. For decades neoliberals have argued that the twin pillars of the so-called open society are expansive individual rights and freedoms as well as unrestricted free markets (Soros 1988). Over the past two decades China challenged this framework as it asserted its place among the world's economic and political powers. As the very model for the disarticulation of political reform from economic reform, a nation eager to take part in the global market-place but unwilling to adhere to the international system of human rights and standards of democratic reform, China's entry into the WTO illustrates that open markets do not mean open societies. [1] Nor does the world require adherence to the principles of an open society as long as there is secure and orderly access to the world's potentially largest market. These contradictions between principles and practice combine with the specific events of September 11th to create present-day conditions under which civil liberties are curtailed and dissident opinions silenced in order to shore up specific visions of civilization and the economic system undergirding them. From this perspective, September 11 does not mark a turning point but a deepening of the contradictions of neoliberal capital.

[3] The modern system of human rights has emerged episodically through the latter half of the 20th century. In the wake of World War II, the establishment of the United Nations, and, most notably, the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a loose network of legal instruments, institutions and organizations have sought to secure and protect human rights globally. These complex sets of laws, conventions, commissions, international agencies, non-governmental organizations, as well as activists, have sought to constrain individual nation states in the treatment and care of persons living with their country's borders. Negri and Hardt (2004:274) are quick to point out that the human rights "system" has few effective mechanisms to ensure compliance. They write: "no adequate institutional structure exists to enforce" human rights and the "primary power of human rights is moral persuasion." There is a great deal of truth to this statement. But national governments do sign and ratify human rights conventions agreeing to support, promote and adhere to certain rights standards; as well, regional and international bodies exist — such as the Council of Europe, the African Union, the Organization of American States, and various UN agencies, including the Security Council — that can levy sanctions, withhold loans, forgive debt, or supply aid to elicit compliance. In addition, criminal courts, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the European Court of Justice, have been established that, as Hardt and Negri argue, "indicate the possibility of a global system of justice that serves to protect the rights of all equally" (276).

[4] At the same time, the unevenness of a global modernity linked to neoliberalism constrains this possibility. The failure of the United States to become a signatory to the ICC for fear of criminal prosecutions, particularly those that would involve foreign military operations, has greatly weakened the stature and efficacy of the ICC. Here, the exercise of American modernity as global modernity seems most naked. Though the United States has been eager to use the language of human rights to support its international ambitions, its refusal to adhere to stronger mechanisms of enforcement underscores its hegemony and desire for exceptionalism. Moreover, President George W. Bush's use of so-called "rights talk," particularly his use of the term "freedom" in his various public statements on Iraq, masks the neo-liberal foundation of the exercise of global American power. Throughout the 2004 election campaign for the White House, for example, President Bush used expressions such as "freedom is on the march" when discussing the political situation of Iraq under US military occupation. Indeed, the Oval Office and the Pentagon billed the war in Iraq as "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Bush's use of rights language and "freedom" in particular implies multiple meanings, that include both "positive" and "negative" notions of Liberty — that is both freedom from tyranny, oppression violence and freedom of speech, assembly, religion. In November 2003 in a speech before the US Chamber of Commerce, President Bush stated that "Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity — and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations. Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth." Yet such rights talk, leavened with its Christian millennial rhetoric, does not constitute the adoption or the promotion of a human rights system.

[5] Political theorist Wendy Brown (2004: 460) draws out the uses by US officials, most notably Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of the language of human rights to legitimate and justify US military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, by calling the War on Terror "a war for human rights." As human rights scholar Julie Mertus (2004: 72) points out, US foreign aid policy under President Bush that claims to safeguard human rights has become imbricated with neo-liberal economic development. Mertus points to the case of Uzbekistan, which received some $160 million in US aid in 2002 and 2003 on the condition that the Uzbekistan government "[commit] itself to broad political and economic reforms, including establishing a multiparty system, ensuring free and fair elections, promoting an independent media, judicial reform, and free market reforms." In addition, Mertus points to a 2002 USAID publication that champions the universality of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," yet only distinguishes one specific right — that of property (72). This program of so-called "democratic enlargement" is most visible in Iraq where the US has instituted, in the words of a Washington Post reporter, "wide-ranging free-market reforms that will allow full foreign ownership in every sector except oil" as well as imposed a 15% flat-tax rate that cut the top Iraqi tax rate down from 45% (Chandrasekaran 2003, Milbank and Pincus 2003). Nonetheless, the imposition of neo-liberal plans to sell off Iraq's public sector companies has, at least for the present time, not gone particularly smoothly due, in part, to the resistance of Iraqi officials and the persistence of the insurgency which has scared off many potential buyers (Marshall 2004, McCarthy 2004).

[6] The inability to provide a stable environment for economic development and market reforms reveals another tension in the current neo-liberal historical moment. This is the tension, on the one hand, between security and market stability — a necessity for neo-liberal economics — and, on the other hand, democratic reforms and the protection of human rights. During the 1990s a series of debates erupted over so-called "Asian Values" in which a number of Asian countries questioned not only the universalism of human rights but also the trajectory of economic and political reform. According to human rights scholar William Korey (1998:473), a core component of the "Asian Values" argument was the belief that "economic development must precede the full unfolding of political and civil rights, that Asian countries place greater value on harmony of the community than on individual freedoms." In this developmental narrative, economic reforms, the stabilization of financial markets, and trade agreements takes place prior to political and civil rights, as if the choices about economics were not themselves the subject of political debate and the democratic process.

[7] Through examination of neoliberalism in the United States and China, this paper draws attention to the ways in which market, society, and state interact with a human rights system to relegate human rights to a secondary position when threats to neoliberal hegemony appear. We call attention to this dynamic because the substitution of elite interests for universal human rights is characteristic of the neoliberal order and forms the basis of neoliberal rights norms. It is also the larger framework for current debates concerning rights versus security that have arisen in conjunction with the war on terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the continued conflicts in Israel/Palestine and between the Russian state and Chechen rebels. Rather than asking how and to what extent China participates in the human rights regime, we foreground the relationship between neoliberalism as a central component of the contemporary world and human rights (Kent 1999, Feinerman 1995). Moving away from debates concerning China as 'taker' or 'shaper' of human rights as well as debates pitting security against rights in the post-September 11 period (Nathan 1994, Ignatieff 2001), we highlight the tenuous relationship between neoliberalism and human rights in both liberal democratic societies and authoritarian states. As such this article is a call for historically informed assessment of the convergence of specific formulations of stability, security, and rights within differently located but nonetheless intimately connected neoliberal regimes. Specifically, we agree with Paul Bové (2002) that, beginning with the Clinton administration, the ideology of human rights became a tool of US neoliberal economic dominance and produced neoliberal rights norms. This then begs the questions, what are neoliberal rights norms? How have these norms, rather than universal human rights, become central to the current vision of 'civilization' promoted by George W. Bush? How do these rights norms entail an alignment of the United States and China in the post-September 11th moment?

Neoliberalism and its History

[8] Though neoliberalism has been a global phenomenon, it has been disproportionately advanced and promoted by Western governments, corporations and agencies through a constellation of Eurocentric cultural forms and practices (Comaroff and Comaroff 2000, Said 1993). The current neoliberal moment is characterized by the asymmetrical processes of American modernity or what can be termed US neo-imperialism. By American modernity we mean the instrumental and often unilateral operation of modern American capital, technology, media and military power, as well as the ever-increasing imposition of a neoliberal economic order by international organizations such as the WTO, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the World Bank. Globalization may be a totalizing modern condition that, on the one hand, is collapsing time and space, creating a world of quickening financial and material mobility (though not necessarily the movement of people). On the other hand, it is characterized, even shaped, by the enormous advantage of US economic and state power forming a world system in which America remains ascendant. [2] This asymmetrical economic power enjoyed by theUnited States is matched by its ability to act unilaterally on the world stage, as when it opted out of the International Criminal Court, the ABM Treaty, the Kyoto Protocols, and the imposition of tariffs to protect domestic resources and agricultural markets.

[9] Yet in the period since September 11th these impulses within the United States to privilege security in terms of domestic and foreign policy have become even more acute. The White House and the civilian leadership in the Pentagon have developed a preemptive doctrine of intervention akin to the "Broken Window Theory" which dominated urban policing in major American cities during the 1990s. [3] Putting this doctrine in global terms means US intervention in so-called rogue or failed states that might potentially support or harbor terrorists, threaten vital American interests, or more selectively possess weapons of mass destruction. [4] Indeed, it is the potential for these nations to pose a threat, rather than an actual manifestation of threat, that is sufficient to demand intervention. Framed within this discourse of prevention and preemption, the US war on terrorism becomes a humanitarian war of liberation to rescue victimized populations and ensure America's security, and where the enemies are "unlawful combatants" without standing or legitimate sovereignty (Žižek 2002, Kennedy 2004). As the historical geographer Neil Smith (2002, xi-xii) argues, this vision by the Bush administration has resulted in a "conflation of national self-interest with global universalism" even "global good."

[10] In the United States the term neoliberal has principally been consigned to the halls of the academy and various scholarly journals and is not commonly used within public and popular discourse. What in Europe would be called neoliberal is often termed neoconservative by American commentators, journalists and politicians. [5] Liberalism in America, as historian Gary Gerstle (1994) has asserted, has a "protean character," one that has shifted and changed meaning throughout the 20th century. The liberal political paradigm has come to represent the reform and governmental regulatory traditions, as well as welfare and state modernization traditions, that emerged out of the Progressive Era and found full form in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society (Brinkley 1995, Rorty 1998). Liberal modernization, augmented by calls for human rights and the right of self-determination in the wake of the Holocaust and in anti-colonial independence struggles of the Third World, were an important source for the social movement politics of the 1960s and 1970s. Together these elements envisioned a more activist regulatory state to ensure a measure of economic redistribution through social welfare programs in concert with greater civil rights, safeguards against race and sex discrimination, environmental protection, workplace health and safety, and consumer rights (Brinkley 1995, Chafe 1991, Paterson 1996). [6] In contrast neoliberalism harkens back to classical liberal philosophy of the 19th century that works to limit the sovereignty of government and the state's role in economic markets. In the post-war decades neoliberalism emerged as the most significant critique of the command economies of the Soviet Bloc as well the Keynesian planned economies favored by Western democracies. [7] Thus neoliberalism sought to restrain state authority and regulation, to minimize government involvement in the economy through a system of civil and property rights, market autonomy, and the freedom to contract.

[11] Neoliberalism in the United States was able to tap into the populist anti-taxation tradition, a sentiment bolstered in the late 1970s and 1980s by the erosion of real earnings due to high inflation and the post-Fordist economic restructuring, which caused hundreds of thousands of American industrial workers to lose their jobs. The so-called Reagan revolution, matched with its United Kingdom counterpart Thatcherism, saw a dramatic decline in state social welfare spending coupled with dramatic cuts in tax rates for individuals and corporations (Collins 2000, Hayword 2001, Jenkins 1989, Willis 1988). Privatization, individualization, de-regulation and comprehensive free trade agreements were the hallmarks of Reaganomics, which ultimately reached the position of bipartisan political consensus with President Bill Clinton's declaration that the "era of big government is over" during the 1995 State of the Union Address (Clayton and Pontusson 1998, Teeple 2000).

[12] The prosperity promised by decreased state involvement and increased open markets has rhetorically been linked explicitly to the spread of human rights. At the Organization of American States (OAS) Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City in April of 2001, the leaders of North and South American governments — excluding Cuba's President Fidel Castro — elaborated on the relationship between prosperity and human rights. The leaders' joint communiqué (Summit of the Americas 2002) stated the summit's goals as:

... to renew our commitment to hemispheric integration and national and collective responsibility for improving the economic well-being and security of our people. We have adopted a Plan of Action to strengthen representative democracy, promote good governance and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. We seek to create greater prosperity and expand economic opportunities while fostering social justice and the realization of human potential.

This statement reflects the paradox of human rights, or what Marilyn Young (2000) refers to as a persistent negotiation between claim and practice within specific historical moments. In the context of neoliberalism, state leaders presently understand free trade as a prerequisite for human rights. Integration of markets becomes the a priori condition for the development of human rights in such a way that the former becomes the primary focus, with the latter presumed logically to follow. The phrasing demonstrates the privileging of economic well-being and security; and the envisioned democracy, good governance, and social justice reflect specifically Euro-American models. Finally, as the 'realization of human potential' becomes intimately linked to this system of trade endorsed by state leaders, the state occupies not a smaller role in a global martketplace (as the rhetoric of neoliberalism suggests) but a more central role.

[13] The right to protect this new order, to stabilize and sustain the economy, is buttressed by what Negri and Hardt (2000) term the "right to police," the neoliberal rationale that the use of state power, of force and security is appropriate to preserve private property and maintain the efficacy of the market. "Within the discourse of globalization" as sociologist Paul Du Gay (2000) observes, "the pursuit of national economic efficiency is the sine qua non of national security and well-being." To disrupt this market is not merely to voice dissent but to challenge the foundations of the modern nation. Similar argumentation regarding the need to delimit criticism of neoliberalism informs Chinese responses to Western criticisms of the lack of political reform and its human implications in China. Thus a central component to understanding human rights in China and internationally is not the extent to which China internalizes Western norms but the championing by both regimes of neoliberal rights norms at the expense of universal human rights norms.

The Case of China

[14] The China of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and now Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabo espouses many of the basic assumptions of neoliberalism, specifically an emphasis on free market ideology and disinterest in the inequalities created by international capital. Similar to the American formulation, Chinese neoliberalism turns away from Keynesian economics (popular in 1980s China) and liberalism à la John Dewey and Harold Laski toward the classical liberalism of F.A. Hayek, Karl Popper, and Thomas Jefferson (to name a few of the liberal thinkers currently being translated into Chinese) (Liu 2000). Wang Hui (2002), intellectual historian and social critic, argues that since 1989 neoliberalism has emerged as the dominant discourse in China, undermining the power of alternative positions to be voiced in public debate. Others such as Xudong Zhang and Wang Shaoguang date the ascendancy of neoliberalism to 1992 with Deng Xiaoping's Southern Tour (Zhang 2001:56). All three, however, agree that 1989 marked a turning point toward a neoliberal approach that, by the early 1990s, dominated official economics of the Chinese state as well as intellectual life. From this perspective, China's entry into the WTO is only the latest manifestation of a neoliberal ascendancy in China (Han 2001).

[15] Within the Chinese context, neoliberalism merges with a developmentalist program for modernization that rejects social-democratic programs as well as experiments of mass mobilization, specifically those associated with the Cultural Revolution Decade, 1966-1976. Xudong Zhang (2001:26) views neoliberal discourse in China as an endorsement of capitalist development and unequal distribution "while morally capitalizing on the discourse's championship of democracy and freedom." Moreover, Zhang asserts, "[t]he socioeconomic and political reality in China today dictates that neoliberalism cannot be anything but an elitist discourse; that its demand for 'negative freedom' means not withdrawal of the state from the social sphere, but its political intervention in a different kind of sphere, namely, its selective and preferential protection of the 'fittest' in the market economy" (2001:29).

[16] From one perspective, it is possible to apply an instrumentalist interpretation to China's embrace of neoliberalism in the realms of the economy and international relations. Neoliberalism can and has been used to assert the primacy of Chinese state sovereignty that has informed old-fashioned power politics, while also explicitly linking national strength to the post-1978 emphasis on the primacy of capital and an acknowledged secondary concern with human rights and social equality. The "Asian Values" position taken by ASEAN in 1997 can be understood in this framework. Those advocating "Asian values" attacked George Soros and human rights as an instrument to extend Western hegemony over Asia. As summarized by William Korey (1998:474), the "Asian concept of human rights" asserted that "first, cultural or religious traditions justify the abrogation of certain rights that Westerners consider universal; second, ... as a nation's economy grows one can expect greater adherence to some of the rights of its people." Even as the position taken by ASEAN in 1997 challenged "Western" human rights, Chinese neoliberal intellectuals and their counterparts in the state apparatus have participated in the articulation of new global rights norms that converge with American neoliberalism. That is, bilateral and multilateral negotiations over human rights issues take place within an international consensus around neoliberalism. Emerging rights norms thus attend to corporate, private, and elite rights in an individualized sense and draw upon assumptions that these rights are the basis of democratic reform. But, as we argue below, articulating rights in these terms supports anti-democratic political-social orders rather than a broad human rights regime.

[17] As we consider the extent to which the Chinese modernity of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao at the current moment converges with American modernity to consolidate a particular mode of governance, it is necessary to consider briefly the genealogy of 'chaos' and 'stability' in the People's Republic of China. It is, after all, in contemporary conceptualizations of these terms that the concomitant war on terrorism and China's entry into the WTO reinforce a particular world order. This world order increasingly silences critical voices and alternative modernities, and polices so-called anarchy or chaos in the name of security and order.

[18] In his famous 1957 speech "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions" Mao Zedong reiterated his belief that contradictions are a prime mover of history (1971:85-132). Mao insisted that conflict is desirable and inevitable as he noted that the struggle between capitalism and socialism had not been resolved by political revolution. Moreover, Mao added to the list of contradictions that between 'leadership and the led.' He thereby provided the rationale, later invoked at the outset of the Cultural Revolution, to question the authority of the Leninist party as he advocated a theory of continuous revolution. This theory shaped the latter half of both the 1950s and 1960s with Maoism reproaching the status quo as a breeding ground for new elites, revisionism, and conservative policies. Chinese neoliberals currently attack the Maoist vision of history centered on revolution and contradiction. Neoliberals condemn the repressive political culture established during the Cultural Revolution as a means to also delegitimate revolutionary, social-democratic, and populist challenges to neoliberal historical development. [8]

[19] The counter-revolutionary program of Chinese neoliberalism places great emphasis on stability and security as cornerstones of historical progress. Contrary to the Maoist insistence on political campaigns as essential to ensuring that economic construction proceeds along socialist lines, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin have insisted that the economy must be managed by economic principles (Schoenhals 1999). By economic principles, Deng and Jiang referred to a shift to private property, profit motive, and rationality. [9] They considered class struggle anathema to this configuration of economics because it inserted unpredictable forces into the economic equation. The paradigm shift they intiated rendered market order and security essential to post-1978 'socialist' economic construction. [10]

[20] The removal of class struggle from Chinese politics began with the Third Plenum of the 11th CCP Central Committee, meeting in December 1978. By locating class struggle in the past, the CCP Central Committee prepared the ideological and constitutional grounds for Deng's "Four Modernizations" and Jiang's subsequent insistence on the interdependence of economic development and political stability (rather than Maoist instability). [11] While the post-1978 Chinese leadership has not been consistent on whether economic development begets political stability or political stability begets economic development, neither Deng nor Jiang hesitated to point to the example of the Soviet Union as evidence that rapid political reform is detrimental to development and stability .

[21] Jiang's repeated public declarations asserting political stability as the precondition of economic development remind us that Jiang rose to his current leadership position in the CCP as a result of his role in crushing the 1989 student-led demonstrations (Gilley 1998, Chen 2000). In the spring of 1989, students embraced rights claims commensurate with the inheritance of political liberalization and the open society in their call for the "Fifth modernization" (democracy). In contrast, Jiang supported the April 26th editorial that invoked the official terms for the Cultural Revolution and labeled student demonstrations "an episode of turmoil" and "chaos." He thus aligned himself with those who equated political stability with unquestioning support of the Chinese Communist Party. This editorial, coupled with the political writings of Deng Xiaoping and later Jiang Zemin, reconfigured the political landscape. Post-1978 China linked political activism to Maoist practices in order to distance claims for political and civil rights from a newly valorized stability, order, and capitalist economic growth.[12] In this system individual elite rights could be claimed, particularly with respect to property, but collective rights were relegated to a delegitimated (Maoist) history. [13]

[22] In his commitment to development authoritarianism, Jiang proved adept at creating the very conditions under which neoliberal economics could flourish. He did this by demonstrating that rights to free speech, association, and human life were ephemeral, disposable and inconvenient when they dared to threaten Party authority, stability and rule. He did not hesitate to employ rhetoric that combined neoliberalism, Party control, and Chinese particularlism. To this end, political, legal, and environmental reforms either served or took a backseat to economic growth. Party reform stands as a clear example of this dynamic. After an intense year of debate within China about Party structure, the CCP announced on 1 July 2001 a set of fundamental reforms that allowed private businessmen membership in the Chinese Communist Party (a workers' party since its creation in 1921). It must be noted that the inclusion of youchan (those with property) in the CCP did not redefine the role of the Party in society but rather formalized the close relationship between Party authority, private capital, and economic development. [14]

[23] On the legal front, the present regime is committed to strengthening the rule of law for economic growth as it also understands, above all, law as an instrument of social control. For instance, while substantial legal reform regarding trade has been undertaken in conjunction with GATT and WTO applications, the 1997 amendments to the Criminal Law replaced the crime of counter-revolution with that of "endangering state security." This revision removed the intention requirement formerly necessary for charges of counter-revolution, opening the law to broader application (Potter 1999, Clarke and Feinerman 1995). The parallel is clear between these laws and post 9-11 American equivalents, such as Oregon Senate Bill 742 in which the crime of terrorism, with a term of life imprisonment, includes participating in an act that is intended by at least one of its participants to disrupt commerce, transportation, educational or governmental institutions of the State. The internal policing of populations in China and the US relies upon an overly broad definition of terrorism to ensure "state security". US Patriot Acts I and II, as well as Chinese legal reforms, remind us that order and security rather than free speech and assembly are central to a neoliberal order in which acts against the state include anti-globalization and peace activities.

[24] While we cannot argue that the Chinese and American states are the same, we must recognize the ways in which September 11th has brought into focus particular points of convergence between Chinese developmental authoritarianism, American modernity, and neoliberalism. Jiang Zemin understood developmental authoritianism as the means through which to avoid, in his words, the "socio-political chaos" of Indonesia, the Philippines, and India, brought about in his assessment by the system of one-man, one-vote (Lam 2001). The system forged under Jiang's leadership shared with neoliberalism the desire for stable conditions to foster economic growth and recognition of the need for close ties with capital. Despite the silencing of voices that agitated for change and associated other human rights violations, [15] this elusive promise of political and social order coupled with open markets underpinned China's accession to the WTO in September 2002. [16] Accession to the WTO marked the triumph of post-1989 political conservatism and deepening economic reforms of China's leadership and demonstrated the commensurability of post-1978 Chinese modernity with international norms centered on neoliberal economics. [17]

Rights and the Chinese Political Landscape Pre- and Post- 9-11

[25] Against this backdrop of the rise of socialist markets, communism with Chinese characteristics, and bureaucratic capitalism, the topic of human rights has also emerged as a component of the post-Maoist political landscape. [18] During the period 1978-1980 and in the late 1980s, public debate on the topic of human rights emerged in China. These debates included three main viewpoints: first, the official view that championed the right of self-determination but not "bourgeois human rights"; second, the late 1970s position that civil rights, although still understood within a class framework, needed to be fought for in the period of socialism; and, third, in the 1980s, the assertion that human rights could transcend class, and therefore individual rights were as important as collective economic, social and cultural rights (Kent 1999, Xiao, Luo, and Wu 1979). The presence of human rights as a contested issue in post-1978 Chinese domestic and foreign policy appears to lend support to the liberal claim that open markets and rights discourse are twin pillars of modernity. However, if we consider how and when human rights became a central issue it is evident that geopolitical struggles determined the saliency of human rights at specific moments, and that the particular formulations of human rights and the role of judiciaries in articulating rights has been commensurate with neoliberalism. [19]

[26] An examination of the geopolitical framework of human rights discourse in China demonstrates that while pressure existed (internally and externally) for reconsideration of the Maoist stance on human rights, substantive reforms or demands for such reform were not forthcoming during the periods of public debate in the late 1970s when Western media and academic research discussed Chinese human rights. [20] The US State Department did not include China in its annual human rights report until 1979, despite American linking of human rights to foreign policy throughout the 1970s and the formal integration of China into the human rights regime with membership in the United Nations in 1971 (Wan 2001). Moreover, human rights did not emerge as a significant issue until 1989, owing as much to the end of the Cold War, a geopolitical shift that placed (socialist) collective rights in "the past", as to the Tiananmen Square massacre (Cohen 1987).

[27] In many ways, Tiananmen 1989, as well as the Clinton administration, highlights the precarious position of civil and political liberties and collective human rights within neoliberalism. At this moment, a separation clearly existed between the rhetoric of rights and freedom and the practice of economics. Even as the international community condemned the Tiananmen Square massacre, in the 1990s foreign investment in China increased and the Chinese economy flourished. [21] Moreover, Beijing and the American business community both opposed efforts to link human rights to trade status in 1993-4, and the combined force led to the delinking of human rights and China's most-favored-nation trading status by Bill Clinton in May 1994 (Dalpino 1999). Julie Mertus (2004:43) asserts that the "greatest human rights reversal took place over China" as a situation emerged under Clinton, in which contra the use of economic sanctions to isolate Burma and Cuba, good trade relations rather than human rights issues governed US-China relations. The Chinese state's refusal to engage in human rights discourse on a meaningful level thus has not proven detrimental to international acceptance. [22]

[28] The United States and the international community appear to have been persuaded — or at least assuaged by the idea — that the Chinese decision to promote economic development rights over political and civil rights is, as both Deng and Jiang have claimed, the most pragmatic solution. [23] International irresolution on China's human rights violations indicates that some international elites, including Clinton, accepted a presumably temporary trade-off of human rights violations for economic development. Importantly, with the rise of neoliberalism in the post-1989 period, this formula appears to have forgotten Chinese human rights scholar Andrew Nathan's (1997: 252) important reminder that "deprivations of freedom of speech and political action, which may be considered necessary to keep political order - more often lead to developmental mistakes than to developmental achievements." Nathan and others invoke the example of the famine of the Great Leap Forward as one of the most appalling examples of the human costs of forced silence (Sen 1999). Similarly, in the present era of increased worker unrest and use of state power against workers, the ability to articulate rights talk, to voice dissent amidst massive economic and social changes, is crucial to the efficacy of human rights and sustainable development, and must not be relegated to secondary or tertiary status within a neoliberal teleology.

[29] Within China, the so-called pragmatic approach to human rights, elaborated in Deng Xiaoping's speeches from 1982-1992, stressed economic development and welfare as prerequisites for other rights. Deng's position mobilized the language introduced into international human rights by the Maoist insistence on collectivist and state-based norms. During the initial period of UN membership (1971-1978) China had asserted that human rights was an issue for the Economic and Social Council, reflecting a division between these rights and political and civil freedoms. Significantly, the post-1978 leadership selectively uses this formulation of rights for neoliberal ends. They do not invoke a Maoist formulation of rights couched in critique of capitalism and individualism; rather they utilize distinctions over types of rights to promote economic development and elite freedoms within a global marketplace. Such a position complements a conservative anti-revolutionary understanding of political change as it defers political reform to the future. Jiang Zemin's developmental authoritarianism, which remains the basis of the current Chinese state, then derives authority from the combination of a rhetorical privileging of collective needs, and the power of the Party over individual rights.

[30] On one hand, the appeal to collective rights over individual rights, that informs "Asian values" formuations of rights, is antithetical to the positioning of the individual at the center of the liberal polity. But on the other hand, the deferred and secondary status accorded to political and civil rights in this formulation echoes both neoliberal assumptions regarding open markets as well as the rationale given for the suspension of civil rights in the war on terrorism. First, the teleological conceptualization of progress that links economic rights to the slogan "to get rich is glorious" resonates with neoliberal assumptions that economic development will bring social equality. [24] This line of reasoning requires that the inequalities that propel capitalist development be overlooked on the fallacy that all will eventually prosper in this system (Chan 1998). This is the promise that the Chinese state makes to its citizens in exchange for political loyalty, a promise many are willing to embrace. It is also the promise offered by the US government and its think tanks. Catharine Dalpino (1999:2), visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and former US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, wrote in 1999 of "unprecedented personal freedom" for ordinary Chinese citizens. She attributed this freedom to "the effects of the economic reforms introduced in China in 1979, and more recently to rapid economic growth." But for the hundreds of million of unemployed, the tens of millions of rural dwellers living in poverty, the workers denied unionization, and the large numbers of laid-off workers in the agricultural sector since WTO entry, such claims made about the end of class struggle, international capitalism as a social equalizer, and unprecedented personal freedom seem far removed from their experience of this system. [25]

[31] For those segments of the population who do not benefit from closer ties between the CCP, national entrepreneurs, and transnational capital, rights appear on the national political radar only when political stability is concerned. In a 2002 address to the seven-member Politburo, Jiang Zemin expressed concern that the condition of poor farmers and laid-off workers could spark instability. He stated that "all cadres in leading positions must — from the vantage point of reinforcing the ruling position of the party — do more for the public and help the poor." Cadres must "promote social and economic development and social stability" (South China Morning Post, 6 February 2002). The economic rights of the poor, however, entered politburo discussion because of the fear of hordes of disillusioned unemployed contesting Party authority and upsetting a stable market order. [26] In other cases in which threats to stability and Party rule cannot be as easily addressed via economic development, rights claims are seen as divisive and therefore outside contemporary national, international, and transnational needs. Those asserting rights in this context are China's terrorists.

[32] In recent years Beijing increased its efforts to control unrest and independence movements in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region. [27] The ambitious western development project used the tactic successfully implemented elsewhere of granting economic freedom in exchange for political loyalty. These efforts have failed, however, as Muslim identity strengthens in the area. As a result Uighurs working against Chinese state repression, forced cultural assimilation, and mass arrests of intellectuals, dissidents, and supporters of self-determination have been labeled 'terrorists.' Even as human rights organizations condemn Chinese state practices in Xinjiang, the Chinese state underlines that as terrorists, fundamentalists, and/or extremists these people do not have rights within the desired order. Those labeled terrorists and the attendant chaos they create are dangerous to contemporary Chinese modernity. And so, too, to American modernity, as evidenced by the Bush administration's silence on religious freedom in China post 9-11 in order to access Chinese intelligence on Muslim militants (Mertus 2004:71). China has not been alone in making this connection to terrorism, or seeing its relations with the US change as a result: Russia, India, and Israel have made similar statements regarding the conflicts over territorial sovereignty and self-determination in Chechnya, Kashmir, and the Occupied Territories. In the present global war on terrorism aspirants for political independence and geographic autonomy, those who in another era might have been seen as "freedom fighters," are now clearly seen as part of the larger threat to global order and the operation of American modernity. It is in the present situation that we see the convergence of Chinese and American conceptualizations of world order arranged around 'axes of evil' and a defense of 'civilization' embedded in neoliberalism.

September 11th: Reinforcing Global Trends linking China and the United States

[33] One of the lessons of September 11th is that despite the argument put forward by liberal democrats that protection of human rights has become a mark of the 'civilized' world (Donnelly 1998), joining this civilized world does not entail acceptance of human rights as an essential component of its new order (Foot 2000). China's accession to the WTO and participation in the war on terrorism indicates as much. Economic reforms and free markets were to lead to political reforms and free elections but this clearly has not been the case. More specifically, as the war on terrorism proceeds in the "civilized world," with its denial of basic rights to citizens and prisoners of war, we should reconsider the ways in which China is part of the current "civilization." In particular, China's 2002 accession to the WTO less than a week after September 11th gives new meaning to the May 2000 statement at the National Foreign Trade Council by Mike Moore (2000), Director-General of the World Trade Organization, that "the WTO provides certainty in an uncertain world." Certainty, stability, order are key concepts in the war on terrorism.

[34] The most significant sign of Western democracies' move toward a more restrictive and authoritarian form of neoliberalism has been the enactment of legislation that has restricted civil rights and suspended the usual protections of criminal procedure, allowing, for example, the use of military tribunals to try foreign suspects despite the fact that no official state of war exists in this so called war on terrorism. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 some 1,200 individuals have been held in custody even though, as Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman (2002) has observed, many of these individuals have languished in prison without being publicly identified, a clear violation of due process. The massive USA Patriot Act, which runs to a length well over three hundred pages, dramatically restricts the legal protections of foreign nationals who can now be held without charge on the suspicion of terrorism and again allows for the use of military tribunals. In Canada, Bills C-35 and C-36 have strengthened the government's powers of surveillance as well as restricted demonstrations against foreign representatives at international meetings, all in an attempt to further curtain off anti-globalization activities. An anti-globalization protestor now risks being designated a terrorist and thus subject to harsh official treatment and restricted legal rights should a court find she interfered with foreign delegates at international meetings. Similarly, in early February 2002, the European Parliament got rid of existing extradition procedures and passed a member-wide arrest warrant provision to allow for quicker prosecution of suspected terrorists. All these bills and practices have informed the vague and shifting treatment of Al Qaida and Taliban prisoners and their detention at Guantanamo Bay, as well as the fierce debate among civil libertarians over the exclusion of these individuals from the Geneva Conventions and their subsequent treatment at Camp X-Ray (Drumbl 2002). Moreover, these bills and practices raise other questions about who potentially could be labeled a terrorist, and what sort of associations, forms of dissent, and even viewpoints could be seen as threats to national and global security.

[35] It is not just individual rights that have been eroded and curtailed since September 11th. Access to information, governmental transparency and openness also have come under the veil of security and secrecy. According to a 2001 Washington Post article the FBI and various other US Federal Government Agencies have issued orders to destroy and withhold previously available documents, reports and maps at university and public libraries, as well as online documents from the internet. As a consequence, materials dealing with public works, utilities, industrial manufacturing, and nuclear plants have been withdrawn from public scrutiny due to "public safety" concerns (Cha 2001:A01). Western democracies have reacted to the threat of terrorism and challenge to public order with language and legislation closely resembling that of China, a response that places order ahead of rights, the state ahead of polity, control of information over access to information. The supposed neoliberal promise of open society and small government is thus deferred in favor of security and continuity of rule. Fifty years ago Von Hayek and Popper advanced neoliberalism as a response to the authoritarian communitarianism of the Soviet Union and German National Socialism. What has emerged instead at the beginning of this new century is an authoritarian neoliberalism, in danger of becoming commensurate with China's developmental authoritarianism, an order that disciplines the body politic in the name of the market and privileges property and elite rights over human rights.

[36] By placing the early stages of the war on terrorism within the context of the WTO we can see how the ascension of neoliberalism has brought supposedly clashing civilizations closer than ever before. [28] Distinctive American and Chinese modernities share a common rationale, one seeking to forge new trade agreements, sign international commercial ventures and above all maintain a secure and orderly market for the operation of international capitalism. As Canadian legal scholar Joel Bakan has asserted, "Neoliberal premises leave little room for political protest about economic policy. Neoliberal logic compels the conclusion that protestors are ill-informed and irrational, driven by ideology and ignorance rather than by reasoned understanding of economic science" (2000:83). The Chinese state chooses to portray Xinjiang Muslims, student demonstrators, and political dissidents in this light. Likewise, George Bush's government groups in the common category of "enemy" those individuals responsible for the September 11th bombings, entire populations living in the supposed "axis of evil" who insist upon alternative or at least contrasting visions of "civilization", and those of us who resist the subsuming of our rights to defend America's "civilization." The war on terrorism has thus exacerbated the tightening of security and control on the forms, types and venues of dissent characteristic of neoliberal economic globalization. Rather than understand moves to curtail open societies in the name of order and security to be the result of the war on terrorism, we believe that these practices are components of the larger historical moment. What September 11th uncovered is that we are now faced with the stark prospect that in the new historical moment civilization means neoliberalism, and that the place of human and civil rights is tenuous in both.

The War on Iraq, American Unilateralism, and Chinese Global Positioning

[37] The convergence of American and Chinese rights practices as situated in neoliberal frameworks does not necessarily mean more stable relations between the two countries. Although China quickly moved to support the War on Terrorism in the immediate post-September 11th period, the extension of this war to Iraq pits Chinese interests against United States unilateralism. In the human rights realm, the Chinese state has resisted United Nations resolutions that undermine territorial sovereignty and have insisted that international pressure vis-à-vis Chinese state rule in Tibet and Xinjiang is inappropriate because conditions in these regions are domestic issues. In this respect it has championed national autonomy over particular international conventions. The War on Terrorism, in its initial stages, despite its rhetoric of universalisms and global good versus evil reinforced Chinese state claims in Xinjiang, in particular, as the definition of terrorism and terrorists was sufficiently vague so as to allow targeting of secessionist movements under the guise of the global War on Terrorism. In its current phase, the War on Terrorism, instantiated in the War on Iraq, no longer permits multiple interpretations of American definitions of good and evil. The American policy of preemption and unilateralism makes clear that neither international law nor national borders will be respected should it be in the interest of American modernity, as promoted by George W. Bush and his advisory circle, to violate them.

[38] On one level the Chinese state responded to American unilateralism by appealing to international covenants and law as it stood on the side of the United Nations. Here we see an instrumentalist consideration emerging that counters China's usual wariness of UN resolutions and international covenants when it comes to human rights. Not only has China stood on the side of international laws and the importance of international governing institutions in this instance, it has also explicitly manipulated human rights discourse against the United States to undermine the validity of US state practices. The recent publication on 3 April 2003 by the Information Office of China's State Council of a report on the United States' human rights record exposes the hypocrisy of US reports on human rights abuses in China, a charge that has added weight in the current context of the War on Iraq. This report not only reviews human rights violations within the United States but it also makes an explicit connection to US unilaterialism in international affairs. Since the Chinese state understands multilateralism as critical to its sovereignty and economic strength, it opposes policies that endanger this stance and is willing to invoke rights discourse for moral legitimacy.

[39] But we should not be deceived that the confrontation between China and the United States over the War on Iraq is one based on principles of human rights or the primacy of international law and governing organizations. As the Chinese press gives major coverage to anti-war protests, anti-Americanism in China is characterized by the simultaneous embrace of consumer culture and capitalist competition and vitriolic rejection of American wealth and arrogance. While much of the rhetoric calls to mind Cold War opposition and mutual demonization, at this historical moment it is China and the United States' shared commitment to neoliberalism and the stability and resources it requires which brings about mutual suspicion. In China, this belief is particularly strong among youth under 30 who believe that the United States is "a wealthy bully that will try to beat back China or any country (like Iraq) that dares challenge it" (Zha 2003).

[40] In this context, the new leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have a twofold agenda that emphasizes domestic and security policies and national strength as well as economic growth. President Hu indicated that "China [must] make good preparations before the rainstorm .. and be in a good position to seize the initiative" (Lam 2003). Furthermore, the Leading Group on National Security currently is more concerned with American unilateralism/neo-imperialism than economic issues. This represents a shift from Deng Xiaoping's almost exclusive focus on economic development, facilitated by a common understanding between the US and China that greater economic reform benefited both nations. The present concern with US expansionism, complete with historical analyses that designate the current moment as the fourth stage of a US expansion rooted in economic self-interest and a commercial expansionist spirit, is not misplaced. A report prepared for US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld states that "China represents the most significant threat to both [the United States and India] countries' security in the future as an economic and military competitor." (cited in Press Trust of India, 2003). It is therefore necessary for the United States and India to forge an alliance to contain China as an emerging regional and global power.

[41] Global posturing is important at this moment as American uniliateralism challenges the multilateralism adhered to in the pre-September 11th period. The Chinese state asserts in media and policy documents, including a December 2002 white paper on national defense, that regardless of military or economic strength, China will not promote invasion, expansionism, or hegemonism. Senior colonel and researcher with the Strategy Department of the Academy of Military Sciencies, Chen Zhou, elaborated by saying that as a developing country China needs a peaceful environment and favourable climate on its periphery. Here, once again, there is an explicit linkage of national security to (economic) development that we have argued frames conceptualization of rights and international relations in the current neoliberal moment in China and the United States. Even though China publicly commits to a programme of multilateralism to counter American unilateralism, the twin pillars of their thinking are not at odds. Nor are warnings by government authorities in the United States and party authorities in China that this is a time for national cohesion in which a "unity of thinking" is one of the best expressions of patriotism.

[42] The global (self)positioning of China in the post-9-11 moment can thus be understood as the acceptance and deepening of the contradictions privileging political economy over rights that are produced when developmental authoritarianism and neoliberalism meet the War on Terrorism and American imperialism. The contingency and vulnerability of rights within such a system remind us of the priorities and global frameworks that produce, create, enable, and sustain global superpowers, existing and potential. In this context the headline articles of the English language People's Daily on 9 April 2003, the day following the demise of the Iraqi regime, reinforce the fluid but intimate connections between neoliberalism, rights, and the War on Terrorism. Articles entitled "China has not provided weapons to Iraq since 1990," "Who are the real criminals?" "China, Russia emphasize the importance of the UN role," "Gone with the Fire — Destruction of Civilization in War-tortured Iraq" appeared alongside "Report Summarizes China's Implementation of WTO obligations." Just as China's accession to the WTO in 2001 quietly proceeded in the shadow of the events of September 11 and the launching of the War on Terrorism, compliance with the WTO and its neoliberal agenda continue even as tensions heighten between China and the United States. As we have argued, the appearance of reports on China in the WTO alongside coverage of the "War on Terrorism" should not be dismissed as coincidental or of secondary meaning. Nor should Chinese state use of rights language be overlooked as propagandistic anti-Americanism. Both are intrinsic components of the ways in which rights are understood as, on one hand, a tool for exposing the 'barbarism' of the other and, on the other hand, a privilege that can be revoked when 'national security' and 'civilization' are considered to be threatened.


[1] Many, including former US President Bill Clinton, argue that this is to be a 'trickle down' effect. For Clinton, WTO for China represented "the most significant opportunity that we have had to create positive change in China since the 1970s." What these analysts seem to overlook, however, is that Chinese markets have been open since1978 without effecting political democratic change in a substantive manner.

[2] There has been an immense intellectual condensation around the concept of Globalization and attempts to interpret and understand the modern world. We don't pretend to have a diagnostic model — if such a thing is possible — but we do endeavor to recognize certain trends and tendencies that characterize the operation of global political economy. Arjun Appadurai (2001), Zygmunt Bauman (1998), Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff (2000), Fredrick Jameson and Masao Miyoshi (1998), Saskia Sassen (1998), David Harvey (2001). On the restrictions on the mobility of people see Jacqueline Bhabha (1998). Evelyn Glenn (2000). Saskia Sassen (1998:15-6) observes that multilateral trade agreements regulate and accommodate the cross boarder movement of professional and specialized workers at the same time they restrict the influx of other immigrants. Once again Canada provides an instructive example of this trend. Recent changes to Canadian Immigration policy make it much more difficult for foreign nationals to become landed immigrants in Canada unless these individuals have high levels of skills and education or capital.

[3] The so-called "Broken Window Theory" is premised on the notion that crime and criminal behaviour will develop and expand with neglected and disorganized social spaces. Thus the presence of defaced and derelict properties will serve as a haven for criminals and result in escalating crime rates. To prevent this from happening the city and the police department need to fix the small problems: the broken windows, the graffiti on buildings, the presence of squeegee-kids, squatters and the like, that are harbingers of more serious urban crime. The Broken Window Theory is thus a preventive doctrine designed to secure and stabilize an environment before it slips into blight and decay. Wilson and Kelling (1982).

[4] Simply possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) clearly does not make a nation vulnerable to US intervention. In the case of Iraq the violations of UN Security Council Resolutions pertaining to the destruction and inspection of these weapons was the principal explanation given for the toppling of the Baathist Regime of Saddam Hussein. However countries such as Israel, Pakistan, and India, to name just a few, all have WMD in violation of international non-proliferation treaties. The countries with the greatest number of these weapons: the US, Britain, China, Russia, and France are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. For more information on WMDs, on counties possessing and producing these weapons see the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies website: «» and Federation of American Scientists website: «».

[5] Neoliberal thought was built on an intellectual foundation advanced by the so-called Vienna and Chicago schools of economic thought as well as liberal political theorists concerned with the emergence of modern centralized states and the loss of individual autonomy. Friedrich Von Hayek (1944), Karl Popper (1945), Robert Nozick (1974). For a history of neoconservative thought in the United States see Mark Gerson (1996), Mary Brennan (1995), Rebecca E. Klatch (1999), Lisa McGirr, (2001), Jonathan Schoenwald (2001).

[6] On the impact of decolonization on the American Left see: Van Gosse (1993), Paul Gilroy (1993), Penny M. Von Eschen (1997), Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan (1985).

[7] For a sanguine overview of the history of neoliberalism and its emergence as the dominant model of economic thought see: Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw (1998), Thomas Friedman (2000). For more critical assessments see John Gray (1998), Gary Teeple (2000).

[8] A good example of this type of thinking is expressed by Liu Junning. He states: "The history of China in this century is characterized by its belated efforts to 'catch up' to world trends. (Unfortunately, in the first half of the twentieth century it caught the wave of communism, which was then on the rise worldwide.) In the late 1980s, it attempted in vain to catch the third wave of democractization. Since today's trend is the decline of totalitarianism and authoritarianism and the rebirth of liberalism throughout the world, it would be a tragedy if China once again missed the chance to join the mainstream of human civilization" (Liu 2000: 51-52).

[9] This is periodized as the "three thought liberations," centered around the 1978 debate of pragmatism versus ideology, the 1992 debate of capitalism versus socialism, and the 1997 debate of private versus public ownership. Ma Licheng and Ling Zhijun (1998) see the debates as efforts against leftists who blocked Deng's economic reforms. They view each as a successive erosion of the authority of key components of the socialist economy: first, Mao; second, the planned economy; third, public ownership.

[10] For example, Li Changping, a township party secretary in Hubei province for 15 years and a commentator on rural problems in China, expressed unease at the nostalgia for the "good old days of Mao Zedon" among disillusioned farmers. He feels this nostalgia, if not addressed, is potentially a "dangerous destabilising force" (Ma 2002).

[11] Ironically, the communiqué of the Third Plenum also promised socialist democracy and socialist legality. The subsequent 1979-80 Democracy Movement was suppressed, however. Then in his August 18, 1980 Party Politburo speech that initiated the Gengshen Reforms, Deng called for "the democratization of the life of society as a whole." This political reform movement — which included reinstitution of people's congresses and workers congresses with free election of delegates — was accompanied by the formal abolishment from the constitution of the 'four great freedoms' ("the right to speak out freely, air views, hold great debates and write big-character posters") (Meisner, 1996: chapter 7).

[12] On the significance of the April 26th editorial see Han Minzhu (1990), Geremie Barme and Linda Jaivin (1992), Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom and Elizabeth J. Perry (1992).

[13] We are not suggesting that the Maoist regime has a better human rights record or that it provides an acceptable alternative human rights model. The point is that delegitimization of Maoism simultaneously delegitimates collective social action and locates calls for social and economic rights in a discredited past while also placing calls for civil and political liberties in an elusive future.

[14] The amendments to the constitution put forth for endorsement at the16th CCP Congress this year transform the CCP into a party for all Chinese people. Entrepreneurs and intellectuals will have the same status as the working class. The CCP asserts that the wuchan (class without property) is not being devalued in this process and that the CCP simply wishes to include all citizens, including those with wealth. This clearly contradicts Marxist principles and analysis of the power relations inherent in a capitalist system. This party reform does not bode well for social equality or workers' rights. From another perspective, however, some analysts believe that it may redefine the role of the People's Liberation Army because the PLA no longer will be called upon to suppress anti-communist elements. This then alters the role of the PLA from class struggle to national defence and, optimistically, would entail a transfer of the military from a party to state organ. Less optimistically, the PLA will be called upon to suppress anti-capitalist forces, as has been seen in the use of troops to quell labour unrest in factories.

[15] For example, in December 2000 authorities distributed a list of 11 well-known scholars and instructed Guangdong newspapers and journals not to carry their articles. The blacklist included a number of liberal scholars including He Qinglian who presented an article at a Hong Kong academic conference that upset the Chinese authorities. In this article she argued that as Chinese society changes social class conflicts will worsen (China News Digest 2000).

[16] The initial application for accession to the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization was submitted December 7, 1995.

[17] On the relationship between International Human Rights and Trade Regimes see Caroline Dommen (2002). Dommen outlines two different ways in which human rights groups have attempted to integrate the WTO into an international human rights regime: one, the use of WTO enforcement mechanisms to enforce Western human rights standards on other counties; two, a focus on WTO rules and their application to limit states' possibilities to provide the conditions for realization of human rights. Dommen is primarily concerned with the second approach.

[18] Some suggest that Mao Zedong also was concerned with human rights; the term renquan is used infrequently in the Maoist period. Mao's conception of rights differs fundamentally from rights as mobilized by Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and the international human rights community. Mao understood human rights to be a product of the capitalist era of history and therefore linked to class struggle. Mao argued that socialism was not about individual freedoms but about social and economic equality. In practice, this meant the denial of basic human rights in various campaigns including the Anti-Rightist campaign of 1957, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. Also see Yuan-li Wu et al. (1988)

[19] This also is true of the post-1989 development of human rights theory in China. At the 1993 Bangkok and Vienna Conferences, China adapted its position in order to assume leadership of the "Third World" at Bangkok and "the developing world" at Vienna (Kent, 1999: chapter 5).

[20] On the longer history of renquan (human rights) in China, see Angle (2002), Svensson (2002), and Angle and Svensson (2001).

[21] Foreign investment slowly entered China in the 1980s and gained full force in the 1990s. Since 1993 China has been the second largest recipient in the world of foreign direct investment, behind only the United States. By early 1999, foreign direct investment in joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned companies exceeded one-quarter of a trillion US dollars. From 1980-89, China's GDP increased at an average annual rate of 9.7 percent. The recession of 1989 during which GNP declined to a growth rate of 3.9 percent from 11.2 percent in 1988 was due to the monetary policies of Zhao Ziyang introduced in late 1988. From 1990-94, average GDP growth was greater than 11 percent (World Development Report 1991. Singh 1993, Lardy 1999).

[22] Official human rights studies began in China in 1990 and resulted in the formation of the China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) in 1993. While formerly a nongovernmental agency this group (with a membership drawn from retired government officials, scholars, and members of the Xinhua News Agency) acts primarily as an extension of the propaganda department of the state. The threefold mission of CSHRS is communicating with foreign human rights NGOs, establishing Chinese theories of human rights, and upholding Chinese sovereignty internationally. While human rights is the topic of numerous articles in the official and nonofficial press, articles generally take one of three tactics: one, dismiss allegations of human rights abuses; two, present human rights discourse as interference in domestic politics and a tool of Western imperialism; and, three, counter with reports of human rights abuses in the United States and other Western countries to demonstrate the superior record of China.

[23] Kenneth Lieberthal (2001) includes among the six core premises guiding US-China relations: one, "The United States and Asia benefit from the type of stability that comes from China's meeting the needs and demands of its people. Major governmental breakdown in the People's Republic of China would produce tragedy at home and severe problems for the region and the United States." Two, "Market-based economic development, and the associated formation of a middle class and increased integration with the outside world, will, over the long run, produce liberalizing effects in China."

[24] For a summary and critique of this position see Yash Ghai (1999). Michael Ignatieff (2001:71) cautions against the critique that human rights acts as "the moral arm of global capitalism" because, he asserts, this argument misunderstands the relationship between free market globalists and human rights internationalists. We agree with Ignatieff that these two groups are often in conflict with each other as the former, when concerned with rights, represents what we have called "neoliberal rights norms" and the latter an international human rights regime.

[25] Hu Angang, director of the Centre for Chinese Studies (run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences at Tsinghua University), uses the phrase "one country, two systems, four societies" to refer to the large gaps between urban and rural peoples. His four societies refer to farming, manufacturing, services, and knowledge (Staff Reporter, South China Morning Post online edition, 6 February 2002).

[26] This fear was borne out in the Daqing Oilfield strikes of March of this year that involved up to 10,000 workers demanding unpaid wages and the resignations of officials. Clashes with police and casualties have occurred. The Daqing Oil Company defends lay-offs by directly linking them to entry into the WTO and the need to be competitive. Over the last three years approximately 86, 000 workers have been laid off (just under 49% of the workforce).

[27] Xinjiang has a population of approximately 17 million, including 8 million Muslim Uighurs. It borders on Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Chinese Tibet.

[28] This is clearly the message promoted by the Chinese press and propaganda department as seen in the reporting on George W. Bush's recent visit to Beijing and recent publications including the photo book released February 2002, "30 Years of Sino-US Relations," compiled by the Information Office of the State Council and co-published by the Xiyuan Publishing House and China Intercontinental Press.

Works Cited

Ackerman, Bruce. 2002. "Don't Panic." London Review of Books 24.3 (February).

Angle, Stephen. 2002. Human Rights and Chinese Thought: A Cross-Cultural Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Angle, Stephen and Marina Svensson, eds. 2001. The Chinese Human Rights Reader: Documents and Commentary, 1900-2002. New York: Armonk.

Appadurai, Arjun, ed. 2001. Globalization. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Barme, Geremie and Linda Jaivin, eds. 1992. New ghosts, old dreams: Chinese rebel voices. New York: Times Books.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. Globalization: The Human Consequences. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bhaba, Jacqueline. 1998. "`Get Back to Where You Once Belonged': Identity, Citizenship and Exclusion in Europe." Human Rights Quarterly 20.3.

Bové, Paul A. 2002. "Rights Discourse in the Age of US/China Trade," New Literary History 33: 171-187.

Brennan, Mary. 1995. Turning Right in the Sixties. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Brinkley, Alan. 1995. The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War. New York: Knopf.

Brown, Wendy. 2004. " 'The Most We Can Hope For...': Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism" South Atlantic Quarterly, 103.2/3.

Bush, George W. 2003."Remarks by the President at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy"

Cha, Ariana Eunjung. 2002. "Risks Prompt US to Limit Access to Data: Security, Rights Advocates Clash over Need to Know." Washington Post Sunday, February 24: A01.

Chafe, William. 1991.The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II. Second edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Chan, Anita. 1998. "Labor Standards and Human Rights: The Case of Chinese Workers under Market Socialism," Human Rights Quarterly 20.4: 886-904.

Chandrasekaran, Raviv. 2003. "Economic Overhaul for Iraq; Only Oil Excluded From Foreign Ownership" Washington Post September 22, 2003, P1.

Chen, Tina Mai. 2000. Review of Bruce Gilley, Tiger on the Brink, left history 7.1: 167-170.

China News Digest, 2000. "Authorities Order Ban on Publications of Liberal Scholars," 17 December.

Clayton, Richard and Jonas Pontusson. 1998. "Welfare State Retrenchment Revisited: Entitlement Cuts, Public Sector Restructuring and Inegalitarian Trends in Advanced Capitalist Societies." World Politics 51.1: 67-98.

Cohen, Roberta. 1987. "People's Republic of China, The Human Rights Exception." Human Rights Quarterly 9: 447-549.

Collins, Robert. 2000. More: The Politics of Economic Growth in Post-War America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Comaroff, Jean and John Comaroff. 2000. "Millennial Capitalism: First Thoughts on a Second Coming." Public Culture 12.2.

Dalpino, Catharin E. 1999. Human Rights in China, Policy Brief #50, Brookings Institution.

Donnelly, Jack, 1998. "Human Rights: A New Standard of Civilization." International Affairs 74: 1-24.

Drumbl, Mark A. 2002. "Judging the 11 September Terrorist Attack," Human Rights Quarterly 24 (May): 323-360.

Edmonds, Richard Louis. 1999. "The Environment in the People's Republic of China 50 Years On." in Richard Louis Edmonds (ed), The People's Republic of China after 50 Years. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 78-87.

Eschen, Penny M. Von. 1997. Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Feinerman, James V. 1995. "Chinese Participation in the International Legal Order: Rogue Elephant or Team Player?" China Quarterly 141 (March).

Friedman, Thomas. 2000. The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York: Anchor Books.

"Focus on agriculture as farms feel WTO pinch," South China Morning Post online edition, 6 February 2002.

Foot, Rosemary. 2000. Rights Beyond Borders: The Global Community and the Struggle Over Human Rights in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gay, Paul Du. 2000. "Representing 'Globalization': Notes on the Discursive Orderings of Economic Life" in Paul Gilroy et al, eds. Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall. London: Verso.

Gerson, Mark. 1996. The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars. Lanham MD: Madison Books.

Gerstle, Gary. 1994. "The Protean Character of American Liberalism." American Historical Review (October): 1043-1073.

Ghai, Yash. 1999. "Rights, Social Justice, and Globalization in East Asia," in Joanne R. Bauer and Daniel A. Bell (eds.) The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 241-263.

Gilley, Bruce. 1998. Tiger on the Brink, Jiang Zemin and China's New Elite. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and the Double Consciousness. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Glenn, Evelyn. 2000. "Citizenship and Inequality: Historical Global Perspectives." Social Problems 47.1: 1-27.

Gosse, Van. 1993. Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America and the Making of the New Left. New York: Verso.

Gray, John. 1998. False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism. New York: The New Press.

Han Deqian, 2001. The advantages and disadvantages of China's accession to the WTO and related debates," «»

Han Minzhu. 1990. Cries for Democracy, Writings and Speeches from the 1989 Chinese Democracy Movement. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hansen, Klaus. 2001. "The Liberal Tradition in America: A German View." Journal Of American History 87.4 (March): 1397-1408.

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. 2004. Multitude, War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: The Penguin Press.

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Harvey, David. 2001. Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography. New York: Routledge.

Hayek, Friedrich Von. 1944. The Road to Serfdom. London: Routledge.

Hayword, Steven. 2001. The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980. Roseville CA: Forum/Prima.

Ignatieff, Michael. 2001a. Human Rights as Politics and Idolatory (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Michael Ignatieff, 2001b "The Attack on Human Rights," Foreign Affairs (November/December): 102-116

Jameson, Fredrick and Masao Miyoshi, eds. 1998. The Cultures of Globalization. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Jenkins, Peter. 1989. Mrs. Thatcher's Revolution: The Ending of the Socialist Era. London: Pan Books.

"Jiang says helping poor key to stability," South China Morning Post online edition, 6 February 2002.

Klatch, Rebecca E. 1999. A Generation Divided: The New Left, The New Right, and the 1960s. Berkeley: The University of California Press.

Korey, William. 1998. NGOs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Lam, Willy Wo-Lap. "After 80 Years CCP looks to future.", 13 June 2001.

Lardy, Nicholas. 1999. China's WTO Membership Policy Brief #47 (April), Brookings Institution.

Lieberthal, Kenneth. 2001. US Policy Toward China. Policy Brief #72 (March), Brookings Institute.

Ma, Josephine. "Squeezed Framers Nostalgic for Mao Era." South China Morning Post online edition, 28 January 2002.

Ma Licheng and Ling Zhijun. 1998. Jiaofeng dangdai zhongguo sanci sixiang jiefang shilu.[Clash: records of the three thought liberations in modern China] Beijing: Jinri zhongguo chubanshe.

Mao Zedong. 1971. "On Contradiction." Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Zedong. Peking: Foreign Languages Press: 85-132.

Marshall, Tyler. 2004. "Heady US Goals for Iraq Fall by Wayside" Los Angeles Times September 27, 2004, A1.

McCarthy, Ellen. 2004. "Iraqis Try to Build Nation And Fortune" Washington Post, July 7, 2004, E1.

McGirr, Lisa. 2001. Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Meisner, Maurice. 1996. The Deng Xiaoping Era, An Inquiry into the Fate of Chinese Socialism, 1978-1994. New York: Hill and Wang.

Mertus, Julie. 2004. Bait and Switch: Human Rights and US Foreign Policy. New York and London: Routledge.

Milbank, Dana and Walter Pincus. 2003. "US Administrator Imposes Flat Tax System on Iraq" Washington Post, November 2, 2003, A9.

Moore, Mike. The WTO and the new economy, 22 May 2000 (New York), «»

Nathan, Andrew. 1997. China's Transition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Nathan, Andrew. 1994. Human Rights in Chinese Foreign Policy," China Quarterly 139 (September).

Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State and Utopia. New York: Basic Books.

Paterson, James. 1996. Grand Expectations: The United States 1945-1974. New York: Oxford University Press.

Popper, Karl. 1945. The Open Society and Its Enemies. London: Routledge.

Potter, Pitman. 1999. "The Chinese Legal System: Continuing Commitment to State Power." in Richard Louis Edmonds (ed), The People's Republic of China after 50 Years. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 111-121.

Press Trust of India, "US, India Forge Defense, Security Alliance to Contain China," 6 April 2003.

Pue, Wesley, ed. 2000. Pepper in Our Eye: The APEC Affair. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Said, Edward. 1993. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf.

Sassen, Saskia. 1998. Globalization and its Discontents: Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money. New York: The Free Press.

Schoenhals, Michael. 1999. "Political Movements, Change, and Stability: The Chinese Communist Party in Power," in Richard Louis Edmonds (ed), The People's Republic of China after 50 Years. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 33-43.

Schoenwald, Jonathan. 2001. A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Singh, Ajit. 1993. "The Plan, the Market, and Evolutionary Economic Reform in China." UNCTAD Discussion Papers, No. 76 (December).

"Society living in separate systems," South China Morning Post online edition, 6 February 2002.

Soros, George. 1988. "Toward a Global Open Society." The Atlantic January.

Svensson, Maria. 2002. Debating Human Rights in China: A Conceptual and Political History. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littelfield.

Teeple, Gary. 2000. Globalization and the Decline of Social Reform. New York: Humanity Books.

Wan, Ming. 2001. Human Rights and Chinese Foreign Relations, Defining and Defending National Interests. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Wasserstrom, Jeffrey N. and Elizabeth J. Perry, eds. 1992. Popular Protest and Political Culture in Modern China: Learning from 1989. Boulder: Westview Press.

Willis, Gary. 1988. Regan's America: Innocents at Home. New York: Penguin Books.

Wilson, James Q. and George L. Kelling. 1982. "Broken Windows" The Atlantic Monthly; 249.3 (March): 29-38

World Development Report 1991. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wu Yuan-li et al., 1988. Human Rights in the People's Republic of China. Boulder and London: Westview Press.

Yergin, Daniel and Joseph Stanislaw. 1998. Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Young, Marilyn. 2000. "Preface" in Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Lynn Hung, and Marilyn Young, eds. Human Rights and Revolution. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littelfield.

Zaroulis, Nacy and Gerald Sullivan. 1985. Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam 1963-1975. New York: Owl Books.

Zha, Jianying. 2003. "Saddam Hussein as Surrogate Dictator," New York Times, 8 April 2003. «»

Xudong Zhang. 2001. "The Making of the Post-Tiananmen Intellectual Field: A Critical Overview," in Xudong Zhang, ed., Whither China? Intellectual Politics in Contemporary China. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.

Žižek, Slavoj. 2002. Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates. New York: Verso.

«» (January 24, 2002).