Menu Expand

The Chinese Approach to Human Rights



Biddulph, S. The Chinese Approach to Human Rights. German Yearbook of International Law, 64(1), 147-178.
Biddulph, Sarah "The Chinese Approach to Human Rights" German Yearbook of International Law 64.1, 2022, 147-178.
Biddulph, Sarah (2022): The Chinese Approach to Human Rights, in: German Yearbook of International Law, vol. 64, iss. 1, 147-178, [online]


The Chinese Approach to Human Rights

Biddulph, Sarah

German Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 64 (2021), Iss. 1 : pp. 147–178

Additional Information

Article Details


Author Details

Professor Sarah Biddulph is the Director of the Asian Law Centre at Melbourne Law School, and Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor International China at the University of Melbourne.


This essay explores meanings and implications of China’s approach to human rights through an examination of China’s discourse and action at the international and domestic levels. First it considers China’s engagement with multilateral human rights norms, processes to shape human rights norms and practice in line with its own priorities and China’s increasingly assertive resistance of criticism of its domestic human rights performance. Second it examines the domestic context within which human rights are given effect. The essay examines the ways in which domestic institutional and ideological frameworks and key concepts such as constitutional governance, development, stability and security shape the domestic governance of human rights. It argues that these concepts have been institutionalised in a way that sits in tension with and even displaces a human rights approach to governance.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Sarah Biddulph\nThe Chinese Approach to Human Rights 147
I. Introduction 147
II. International Engagement on Human Rights 150
A. History of Engagement – Defensive and Positive Strategies to Avoid Censure 150
B. Norm Entrepreneurship – ‘Building a Community of Shared Future for Human Beings’ 152
C. Engagement With Human Rights Council Processes and Compliance 155
D. Contests Over Information and Characterisation in Xinjiang 158
III. Domestic Implementation of Human Rights 162
A. Human Rights in China’s System of Constitutional Governance 162
1. Giving Legislative Form to Rights in the Constitution 163
2. Legality and Equality of Treatment Before the Law 164
3. The People’s Democratic Dictatorship, the People and the Enemy 166
B. Development and Stability 171
1. Development and Human Rights Approaches 171
2. Development, Stability and Labour Rights 172
IV. Conclusion 177