The impact of internal and external responses on human rights practices in China: the Chinese government and the spiral model
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This thesis assesses the usefulness of the five phase spiral model as an explanation of the changes in the Chinese government's human rights practices from the time of the "antirightist" campaign in 1957-58 to the end of 2003. Thomas Risse, Stephen Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink's spiral model focuses on the constitutive relationship between a target state and international human rights norms by exploring the influence of a transnational network promoting these norms on the human rights practices of the target state. The thesis concludes that the spiral model has provided a valid explanation for many of the changes in the Chinese government's human rights practices, and its responses to its internal and external critics, from 1957 to 2003. Many of the responses of the transnational human rights network and the Chinese government by the end of this period indicate that the latter had progressed to phase three of the model. Some aspects of the Chinese government's practices and relationships with its more powerful state critics can be better explained by the alternative explanations examined here, neorealism and modernisation theories. However, constructivist approaches, and in particular the spiral model, are more effective in explaining the developing pattern of communication about the validity of human rights norms. This thesis also concludes that the spiral model only conceptualises part of the constitutive relationship between the target state and international human rights norms - the influence of these norms on the identities, interests and behaviours of a target state.It does not conceptualise the influence of a target state on international human rights norms or the transnational human rights network. Therefore, the spiral model cannot explain why the Chinese government has had such a significant influence over the enforcement mechanisms of these norms. An explanation for this is found instead by combining elements of neorealism and constructivism.
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