China Reality Check Series: China's Human Rights Diplomacy
Founder, The Dui Hua Foundation
Senior Advisor and Freeman Chair in China Studies,
Center for Strategic and International Studies
International reaction to the suppression of student and worker protests in the spring of 1989 compelled China to defend its human rights record. After initially rejecting criticism and even discussion of its record, China adopted a more nuanced approach to ward off the threat of economic sanctions, in particular the removal of its Most Favored Nation status in the United States. The approach included a more robust involvement with the United Nations Human Rights Council, engaging Western critics in bilateral human rights dialogues and consultations, and releasing large numbers of prisoners jailed for their involvement in the 1989 protests and earlier Democracy Wall activities. John Kamm, who has been involved in the release of hundreds of prisoners over a period of nearly 25 years, examines the course of China's human rights diplomacy, and assesses its future direction in a world where China is now an economic and political superpower.