Handbook on Human Rights in China
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Handbook on Human Rights in China

Edited by Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig

This Handbook gives a wide-ranging account of the theory and practice of human rights in China, viewed against international standards, and China’s international engagements around human rights. The Handbook is organised into the following sections: contested meanings; international dimensions; economic and social rights; civil and political rights; rights in/action and access to justice; political dimensions of human rights in Greater China; and new frontiers.
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Chapter 6: China and the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P)

Andrew Garwood-Gowers


As a rising power and veto-holding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council China’s perspective on the responsibility to protect (R2P) is critical to the norm’s development and implementation. This chapter examines Beijing’s engagement with R2P since the original concept emerged in 2001. It argues that China has consistently provided rhetorical support for R2P but has attempted to frame the norm in a narrow manner that aligns with its own normative preferences and interests. This is reflected in a strong emphasis on the primacy of host state responsibility (pillar I) and consensual international assistance (pillar II), while downplaying the potential for external actors to undertake non-consensual, coercive pillar III action which could undermine state sovereignty and regime stability. Recent Chinese practice suggests that Beijing’s norm resistance strategy is now being supplemented by more pro-active efforts to participate in, and entrench, the consensual state assistance components of R2P it supports.

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