Comparative politics - Part 2

      This paper will examine the policies of the United States and China in regard to human rights issues prevailing in the two countries and a comparison will be made in regard to the perceptions that characterize the government policies in the two countries - Comparative politics introduction. Efforts will be made to examine if there can be objectivity in the determination of human rights while considering the economic, cultural and foreign policy perspectives in the given countries. The idea that human rights issues have to be implemented subjectively in order to bring about efficiency in the over all cultural and economic development of nations will be considered as an important focus area in the context of the US and China. The government responsibilities and the questions involving economic, foreign and domestic policies are at variance in the two countries and hence deserve separate treatments. The policies, in being intertwined with the broad sub areas of political science and political economy have to be understood in making a theoretical and logical conclusion of a realistic policy framework for the two countries.

Human rights issues are important responsibilities of the government and it becomes essential to determine them in keeping with the cultural perceptions and aspirations of a country’s population. The government can considerably influence the economy if such factors are taken into account and addressed in the right spirit. The shared assumptions as outlined by theorists in regard to human rights issues have to be developed in a distinctive style of analysis in centring on the fact that societies make their decisions to further specific objectives in keeping with the principle of rationality. In undergoing such comparative politics the objective will be to arrive at a concrete conclusion in regard to the balancing of government policies to enhance human development in the two countries.

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       The USA has always taken pride in presenting a picture of being the chief practitioner of human rights in the world. Despite its reputation, it has been critically evaluated and its policies disapproved for having advanced only its own interest and in having adopted double standards in regard to its human rights policies. The US is charged with not having ratified certain international treaties relating to human rights. Although US diplomats had a major hand in the framing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the country has not initiated the underlying policies for its own people. China too has had a history of extreme human rights violations and the situation is not much bright with the constant reports of deteriorating conditions within the country (David P. Forsythe, 2006). The Chinese government is accused of indulging in increasing incidents of serious religious and cultural repression on the people. It is also known that the persecution of religious minorities in Tibet and other parts of the country continues with the harassment and detention of protesters and dissidents.

    A potent example of the human rights violation in China is the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 whereby thousands of protestors who had voiced their dissent in regard to the death of a pro democratic and pro market functionary, were fired upon and killed in gross violation of human rights principles. The protesters did not have an effective leadership but were unanimous in voicing their dissent against the authoritarianism of the government and demanded an immediate change in its economic policies. As they demanded democratic reforms the demonstrations spread to other cities in China. The events and happenings at Tiananmen Square were widely aired in the Western media and most western countries condemned the manner in which the Chinese government had responded to the protests. The images of the high handedness of the Chinese government had a deep impact on the foreign policy decisions. For almost three years after the massacre, China had to do with economic sanctions being imposed on it by the international community but it did not become soft on its hard line policy towards all kinds of popular protests.

    In framing its human rights policies, China is much against the rapidly deteriorating social order and the widespread existence of racial, religious and geographic segregation in the US. China believes that such practices have led to an alarming increase in crime rates, breakdown of families, political extremism and vandalism in American society (Rosemary Foot, 2001). It is believed in China that such circumstances are the result of excess freedom being given to people. Chinese authorities argue that such results are in the nature of being human rights violations and must be considered while taking stock of a country’s record of human rights. The country has also accused the USA of human rights abuses by way of its invasion of Iraq (Guy Newey, 2008). China too has been accused of gross violation of human rights. Chinese authorities continue to restrain the citizen’s freedom of speech, association, movements and right to privacy. The western media has come out with several reports of the Chinese authorities using practices such as coerced confessions, torture and killing in the case of prisoners, who have also been made to undergo forced labour (BBC, 2008).

    The human rights record of the US is also a complex and controversial subject matter. The country has often been commended for its advanced human rights practices but has faced lot of disapproval in regard to certain matters such as the supposed torture of terrorism suspects. The country, in believing in the principle of liberty, has the strength of an independent and powerful judicial system and a constitution that guarantees freedom from any kind of oppression. Human rights are recognized and guaranteed by the constitution of the country and any grievance can be addressed by the supreme court of the country (Economist, 2009).

      It is important that universal human rights be practiced in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse culturally. The international community is becoming considerably integrated which makes it difficult for cultural integrity and diversity to be respected. It is said that eventually a common global culture is inevitable and thus the question arises whether the world is prepared for it. A global culture just cannot emerge if it is guided by human tolerance and dignity. In this context there are several questions, concerns and issues that underlie the discussions in regard to cultural relativism and human rights. The issue of human rights does not necessarily impose a single cultural standard or any legal standards for the safeguard of human dignity. Cultural relativism refers to asserting that human values vary a great deal according to varied cultural perspectives. Human rights are culturally relative instead of being universal since interpretations vary in different cultures in regard to the application, interpretation, protection and promotion of human rights. In this context it becomes obvious to understand that cultural traditions cannot be allowed to govern state policies in maintaining international standards in regard to the violation, abuse and disregard of human rights. Therefore, the protection and promotion of human rights becomes a subject of government discretion and is perceived in being culturally relative. Determination of human rights essentially entails being dependent on their subjectivity and in relying to a greater extent on the cultural perceptions in any given country.

                                                                Works Cited

BBC, IOC backs China human rights push, 26 February, 2008,

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics/7265593.stm, Accessed on 07.4.09

David P. Forsythe, Human Rights in International Relations, 2006, Cambridge University Press

Economist,  Diplomacy, Faith and Freedom, April 2 2009,

        http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13416209, Accessed on

       07.4.09

Guy Newey, China hits back at US on rights, says Iraq war a disaster, March 13, 2008, The Age

Rosemary Foot, Rights beyond Borders: The Global Community and the Struggle over Human

      Rights in China, 2001, Oxford University Press

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