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Orientalism meets Occidentalism : an analysis on the human rights reports of China and the United States

English Abstract

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Deceleration of Human Rights, which opens a new chapter of the human rights development around the world. Since the universality in the idea of human rights, countries and NGOs, along with scholars are exploring the “true” meaning of the universal human rights. The US published the first Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 1977, since then it becomes annually. This action caused objections all over the world, which in 1991, China, one of the most criticized countries, released its own report in 1991 about China, the released another on the US in 1997. This interaction starts on. The theoretical frameworks of Orientalism and Occidentalism offer another perspective to investigate the interaction, differ from the view of international relation or diplomacy. In this research, I applied the idea of Orientalism and Occidentalism to find out that there are different interpretations on the concept of human rights of the reports. China values the right to substance and development most while the US consider the political and civil rights weights more. However, each sides reckons the other is poor at the human rights situation, with conclusive results attributes into the fundamental elements of each other, when China introduces the progress of its human rights suggests that the human rights condition in China is improving. Through analyzing the context, we realize that the human rights reports are the production of the national strength and international statues. By scrutinizing the dynamic of the interaction, the final finding in this paper suggests that despite of the superficial antagonism, the Orientalism and Occidentalism rather than defying or overturning each other, they are more like the two sides of one coin. China, vi via introducing a new rule, is joining into the whole discourse system in a combative posture as the dissenting voice, instead of throwing over the old system.

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Li, Meng Qi


Faculty of Social Sciences


Department of Communication




Human rights -- China

Human rights -- United States


Chen, Huai Lin

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