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Human Rights

Satisfactory Essays
Ever since human rights became the controversial issue that it is today, western countries have constantly clashed with other cultures over differing ideologies on the topic. The introduction of the media as a continuous broadcaster of international news has moved the inhumane conditions that exist in some countries into the spotlight. The result of this has been a painful realization that many cultures have a contrasting philosophy on the subject of human rights. The happenings in Eastern Europe over the last decade and at present in Kosovo are testament to this; human rights do not seem to be an inherent part of many cultures, China included. We in the west take for granted things like the freedoms of speech, press and association and struggle to comprehend the fact that people are literally dying to gain the same rights. China is a country that, historically, has had a different viewpoint on human rights. This stems back to Confucian days but also includes the Marxist idea that the collective wellbeing is considered vastly superior to the individual. As a result, it is little wonder that when the west and countries like China open up a human rights dialogue, confrontations are inevitable.

Human rights in China had its origins at about the same time that the Ching dynasty collapsed and again in 1911 as part of Sun Yet Sing’s program. Eight years later in 1919, a new iconoclastic movement took over and the appeal of human rights for the radicals of the time came about because it gave them the antithesis of Confucian values, the self. This antithesis aided them in their quest to escape the imperialism of the time and modernize China. Confucian teachings urge the government to rule humanely and with virtue. The ultimate goal of helping the common-people to become educated and thus prosper. Harsh laws and severe punishments, which were common in Confucius’ day, should be abolished. In short, his theories of governing were in complete contrast to those in power at the time. The solution to these problems was to awaken the people to the necessity of reason, and reinforce the thought of morality and harmony. One of the reasons that many Chinese do not formally object to human rights violations is that the collective wellbeing and not the self has been part of their culture for hundreds of years. Confucian teachings are so revered that elements are intertwined with communism throughout the economy and legal system.
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