Human rights in Sino-American relations
Day, Jana R.
Miller, H. Lyman
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Over the past decade, numerous issues largely ignored during the era of Sino-American strategic cooperation emerged to complicate U.S.-China relations. Key among these has been human rights, which both countries view differently. Whereas the United States emphasizes individual civil and political liberties, the People's Republic of China (PRC) primarily advocates economic, social, and cultural rights. This has provided a major source of conflict as Washington has attempted to compel Beijing to provide civil and political liberties to the Chinese people, which Beijing has long withheld in order to preserve power. These differences, combined with a lack of consensus in Washington regarding China policy, the influence of competing interests groups, and the dilemma policymakers face between protecting national interests and upholding American values, makes human rights difficult to address. This thesis offers recommendations regarding a more effective approach to human rights improvements in China. The United States should emphasize China's obligation, as a responsible member of the international community, to comply with international human rights standards. Most importantly, Washington must maintain a strong and consistent stance on the issue. This is particularly true given Beijing's recent attempts to use the international war on terrorism to legitimize its repressive policies in Xinjiang.
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