News / Asia

Three Questions: China's Identity Crisis

A protester scuffles with police officers who were trying to stop a fellow demonstrator from throwing a bag of tofu during a protest to support Chinese dissident Tan Zuoren at the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong, 9 June 2010.
A protester scuffles with police officers who were trying to stop a fellow demonstrator from throwing a bag of tofu during a protest to support Chinese dissident Tan Zuoren at the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong, 9 June 2010.

China issues a scorecard on its human rights progress each year, offering a distinct view from that of international groups monitoring the country’s situation.

This year’s report pays special attention to improved living standards, including increased access to television and Internet, which is tightly controlled. Researchers said a top accomplishment is a 34 percent increase in private car ownership last year.

VOA spoke with Christopher Hughes of the London School of Economics and Political Science about how China’s view of itself affects its relationship with the world.

Why is China focusing on car-ownership in a report about human rights?

This goes back a long way, right back to the Cold War and the establishment of the U.N. and the various international agreements on human rights, when the Communist bloc always said that it wasn't just civil and political rights but equally important or, in fact, more important were social rights and economic rights and rights to development. So their argument is that it doesn't make sense to talk about civil and political rights when people are hungry. I think the problem for China now is that they've already reached a level of material development that's pretty good. And they themselves face a dilemma because they really don't know whether to see themselves as a developing country anymore or as a superpower. And China has these two faces.

It seems like China is sending a pretty unambiguous message to the world that it is a developed country, as seen in its recent dispute with Japan.

It says that through its actions, but then their own premier, Wen Jiabao, made a statement emphasizing that China is still a developing country and should be treated as one. And so they really want it both ways. When it’s convenient, they'll say they're developing and they need aid and special treatment and concessions. But on all those other issues, like asserting their claims to territory, dealing with Japan or India or even the U.S., suddenly they seem to have pretty advanced capabilities.

How do you see this dichotomy playing out on the international arena?

Well, I think we are entering a very difficult period, and the clash with Japan in recent weeks was just one of many of these problems that China is becoming more assertive over. China for many years has been insisting that its economic rise will be peaceful, but its behavior really since about 2008 and the financial crisis, where China has sort of got a new confidence that the U.S. is in decline in some sense or is relatively weak and distracted, and China's time has come. Since then, its behavior has started raising a lot of questions over its intentions and how it's going to use its growing power.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid