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The reception of human rights in early modern China: 1897-1927


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This book aims to provide a context-informed, culture-sensitive picture of the reception of human rights in the early period of Chinese modernization. Following the delineation of the role of human rights in the democratic campaign, the anti-patriarchy movement and the cultural-psychological transformation, it inquires the conceptual grounds for the reception of human rights as well as features of the Sinicized understanding of human rights. It presents how the indigenous humanistic resources and the imported Western ideas jointly resulted in the ready acceptance of human rights, which was remarkably underpinned by a prevalent patriotic motivation. Observing the moral connotation in the Chinese interpretation of human rights, it discloses the impact of the traditional ‘ethical’ vision of the individual that subsumed the ‘right’ perspective, which both harbored the inclination of new forms of oppression of individual freedom, and provided a possible paradigm that synthesizes the good of the individual and of society. This constituted an inquiry of the relationship between Confucianism and human rights, which is still a theme of fierce debate in contemporary discussions.