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China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? Randy Peerenboom Director China Rule of Law Programme, Oxford Foundation for Law, Justice and.

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Presentation on theme: "China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? Randy Peerenboom Director China Rule of Law Programme, Oxford Foundation for Law, Justice and."— Presentation transcript:

1 China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? Randy Peerenboom Director China Rule of Law Programme, Oxford Foundation for Law, Justice and Society Research Fellow, Oxford University Center for Socio-Legal Studies Professor of Law, La Trobe University in Melbourne

2 East Asian Model 1.Emphasis on economic growth rather than civil and especially political rights during the initial stages of development, with a period of rapid economic growth occurring under authoritarian regimes; 2.Pragmatic approach to reforms, with governments following some aspects of the Washington Consensus and rejecting or modifying others; 3.As the economy grows and wealth is generated, the government invests in human capital and in institutions, including reforms to establish a legal system;

3 EAM continued 4. Democratization postponed until a relatively high level of wealth is attained; 5.Nascent but limited constitutionalism begins during the authoritarian period: constitutional norms; stronger institutions; civil society 6.Greater protection of civil and political rights after democratization, including rights that involve sensitive political issues, although with ongoing abuses of rights in some cases and with rights frequently given a communitarian or collectivist interpretation rather than a liberal interpretation

4 Economic Development: WC or BC? Follow basic macro principles for the domestic economy; Reject or modify neoliberal aspects that reduce role of state through rapid privatization and deregulation; state more active in reducing poverty and in ensuring minimal material standards to compete in more competitive economy; Modify relationship between domestic and global economy by gradually exposing domestic economy to intl competition while offering some protection to key sectors and some support to infant industries; Mercantilist? Yes, to some degree, but intl trade rules are hardly fair – surge mechanisms, anti-dumping, Unocal, IP rules, ag subsidies, etc. China more open than Taiwan, Japan, India

5 Future – retrenchment, or more of the same? Retrenchment? restrictions on car manufacturers to encourage local brands and stimulate domestic product development; restrictions on foreign banks expansion of retail branches; limits on large-scale retail outlets; telecom rules make it difficult for foreign companies for companies to control ICP companies established in China through an offshore vehicle; the limitations on foreign invested real estate companies push to establish unions in foreign invested enterprises new policy championing national companies: 2006 seven industries under absolute state control: arms, electricity, oil, telecom, coal, civil aviation and shipping. Others under relatively strong state control: automobiles, electronics, architecture, steel, metallurgy, chemicals, surveillance, science and technology Anti-Monopoly Law to prevent market access by foreigners

6 Continued reforms Generally live up to WTO commitments, except with respect to IP, few other areas Overhaul of approval process Adjust central-local relations in many areas Banking/finance reforms New Bankruptcy Law creditor friendly; labor loses Labor Contract Law – power of unions and rights of workers scaled back Property Law passed after ideological struggle

7 Two competing versions of modernization theory The first emphasizes economic development as the motor for other reforms; the second puts freedom and democracy first China and Asian countries support first, both in terms of successes and failures Development need not lead to democracy, and in particular liberal democracy

8 Figure 4.1. Wealth Effect (GDP) on Rights Performance

9 * * Table Correlation of Wealth, Human Rights and Measures of Development

10 Human Rights in China: ducks and pianos China outperforms average in income class in major indicators except c- p rights: Socio-economic rights: UNDP HDI (poverty, infant mortality, life expectancy, primary school enrollment, literacy) Income equality: two variants in Asia; China similar to HK, Singapore and typical pattern in developing countries; now addressing imbalances Womens rights Physical integrity rights: 4, probably 3 Way below average on civil and political rights Double standard?

11 Assessing Civil and Political Rights What is the proper standard? Developed countries? Still low score relative to wealth Liberal rights – US, intl law? More problematic Legal standards Restrictions prescribed by law; serve legitimate purpose; necessary Case by case versus broader approach Bottom line: many unreasonable (and unnecessary) restrictions + severe procedural problems; Why? Many problems factually, politically, economically, legally and socially controversial Problems of stability; lack of resources; weak institutions; Central-local political contract

12 Next Challenge – Ratify ICCPR? Pro ratification Intl pressure to sign Increase in soft power Improvement in rights? Not likely: general studies: ratification does not lead to improvement Problems will not go away Against ratification Gap between rights and reality Rights stated at high level of abstraction – ICCPR HRC and hr community generally more liberal interpretation than China China would need to ratify with blanket reservation or many examples


14 Limitations Causal direction: both push and pull Not clear how to promote economic growth, establish rule of law Too much focus on courts, property rights Legal system facilitates commerce Elide rule of law with liberal democracy and protection of human (ie civil and political) rights


16 Conflicts and complexities: the challenges facing reformers 1.Economic reforms had led to a much more pluralistic society, with citizens deeply divided in their interests and normative views 2.State organs also have different interests, and support or oppose reforms based on whether they serve their institutional interests. 3.Economic reforms and the governments efforts to promote rule of law and rights-consciousness among citizens have led to greater demands on the legal system

17 More Challenges 4.Judiciary is being asked to handle many cases for which it lacks adequate competence, authority and independence Lacking effective channels for resolving the conflicts generated by economic, social and political reforms, citizens are taking to the streets to seek justice: sharp rise in protests - 58,000 in 2003 to over 74,000 in Police & procuracy in bind: rising crime, but less power 6. Lack resources to throw money at problems

18 The Need for Deeper Reforms No more easy solutions: winners and losers Politics of reform now more complicated Generalizations about rule of law, balance of efficiency and rights, etc. no longer sufficient

19 Toward a solution 1.Prevention: address some of the major social cleavages - rural-urban; regional; intra-urban gap 2.Strengthen current mechanisms for handling conflicts sort out institutional conflicts make tough policy decisions and follow through allow citizens to challenge government acts and to lawyers to represent their clients in controversial economic, criminal or political cases 3.Macro-level planning: which institutes will handle what type of disputes

20 Solutions continued 4.Strengthen existing, and develop new, procedural mechanisms to handle the increasingly diverse views in society - increase public participation 5.More attention to procedural justice in mechanisms for resolving disputes, whether through mediation, the letter and visits system, court cases or other means. Participants must perceive the mechanisms to be fair 6.Explain the proper role and the limits of the legal system and rule of law: legal system is not the proper forum for resolving all contentious issues.

21 The Politics of Reform – Implications for C-P Rights and Constitutional Development Conservative view: more repression Liberal view: rapid liberalization Moderate view: bit of each – stick to EAM

22 Is China trapped in transition? Still many problems with rights, rule of law, governance But trapped? too early to tell – middle-income blues Still growing Following EAM 17 th Party Congress: Hu-Wen consolidate power: harmonious society

23 Rule of Law, Democracy and Human Rights: All Good Things Need Not Go Together Rule of law, democracy and rights: necessary relationship? HK: non-democracy + rule of law + rights Guatemala, Kenya, Papua New Guinea: all score high on democracy (8-10 on Polity IV Index) and yet low on rule of law (below the 25 th WB index) Non-linear relationship between democracy and rights: murder in the middle: as political space opens, the ruling regime is subject to greater threats to its power and so resorts to violence no general improvement in PTS or torture; India PTS 4, Phil. 3, SK 3 Bueno de Mesquita: hr progress only reliably appears toward end of the democratization process. Democracy does not mean liberal rights: EA countries generally outscore average in income class on econ. rights, good governance, law and order; but lower on civil and political liberty. Eg. Free speech, freedom of press

24 Democracy Democratization at low levels of wealth not likely to succeed Nonliberal elitist democracy likely – imperial to imperiled to impeached Democracy no panacea: economic growth, trade tensions rule of law: institutional development human rights: poor, women, criminals, environmental, religion/minorities clash of civilizations? Impact on hr rights regime geopolitical stability

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