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Brief Review of Human Rights Discourse Changes in China’s Human Rights White Papers
June 19,2015   By:CSHRS
Brief Review of Human Rights Discourse Changes in China’s Human Rights White Papers
 
ZHOU Qiang*
 
Abstract: Review and analysis of China’s human rights white papers provide a valuable perspective for summarizing human rights discourse and changes that reflect official standpoints. Observing their structural style, the previous white papers can be divided into three types: the mixed model, the five-in-one model and the rights-listing model. The rights-listing model is more unified and standardized and also accords with China’s reality by listing rights. In previous white papers, content about the right to subsistence has been gradually reduced and content about the right to development has been improved and further highlighted. In the 2013 white paper, there was a single chapter on social security rights, which prominently reflects the priority placed on the people’s livelihood in China’s social development and on human rights protection. The right to development and the livelihood aspect of human rights protection are a new focus of human rights discourse in China.
 
Keywords: human rights discourse    human rights white papers   the right to subsistence   the right to development      social security rights
 
Human rights white papers are official documents on human rights. According to statistics shown on the website of the State Council Information Office, as of the end of 2014, the Chinese government had issued 14 human rights white papers over more than two decades. These white papers show the governmental stand on human rights issues. Through analyses and comparisons of materials, classification, discourse and expression, people can achieve a better understanding of China’s human rights discourse and its changes.1
 
I. Structural Style of China’s Human Rights White Papers
 
Since 1991 when the Chinese government issued its first human rights white paper, China’s Human Rights Condition, until 2014 when it issued the white paper China’s Human Rights Progress in 2013, the government has issued 14 such white papers.2 Considering the difference in structure, content and other relevant factors, this article mainly studies cross-year and annual white papers on human rights.
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