UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Debating human rights and the rule of law in China : international actors' role in upholding basic standards Guitard, Jessica Amy


The question of linking China’s accession to international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its acceptance of internationally recognized standards has taken on increased visibility as China’s economic development climbs at the scale of developed countries. Although globalization has brought about important benefits to some, China’s situation differs in that the policies on human rights, including labour standards, have not been addressed successfully with its rapid transition to a market-driven economy. The purpose of this thesis is to determine the best approach to help promote internationally recognized human rights in a country that arguably does not have a rule of law system. While most see the clash between the role of civil society activists and the presence of supranational corporations in countries such as China, this thesis suggests that there is mutual complicity among those international actors. I have grouped China’s unique position internationally and its particular context in the global economy into six chapters which I have identified as the Rule of Law (Chapter 1), China’s Evolution Towards Capitalism (Chapter 2), Human Rights in China (Chapter 3), Selective Adaptation (Chapter 4), Civil Society (Chapter 5) and Corporate Social Responsibility (Chapter 6). Each Chapter is independent and discusses the various perspectives from a Western and Chinese context. Chapter 1 introduces the notion of the rule of law, as this is a fundamental concept by which liberal democracies can govern legitimately. Respect for the law and its institutions provide protection to individual citizens against the State. This concept has been obscured by China’s central government control.

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