Tibet on Fire pp 123-135 | Cite as

External Affairs: The Globalization of China’s War on Tibet

  • John Whalen-Bridge


“Human rights” is a set of attitudes and sometimes laws and other agreements that exist in relation to political economy. Speakers from various countries such as Australia, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States are nervous about China’s emergence in the twenty-first century as a world power. Occasionally heads of state and various pundits express concerns about human rights and the rule of law, but as China’s economy has grown human rights issues have more frequently taken a back seat to lucrative economic opportunities. China is not shy about doling out economic punishments to smaller nations that displease it. The neoliberal justification for looking the other way when dealing with politically repressive regimes has been that open markets lead to open societies, but this calculation can no longer be made with the presumption that liberal democracies are economically more powerful than the totalitarian regimes, as was the case throughout the twentieth century.1 What happens when non-democratic societies without strong records regarding rule of law or the protection of human rights play with a much larger pile of chips? Attention to the Tibetan situation as it relates to PRC public relations efforts on a global scale provides some indicators of where China’s “Asian values” and so-called soft power initiatives lead, politically2


Foreign Policy Academic Freedom Rome Statute Soft Power Chinese Characteristic 
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  1. 1.
    Sinologists considered China totalitarian through the 1980s, and then the trend was to refer to China as authoritarian, but this approach was questioned by Sujian Guo in Post-Mao China: From Totalitarianism to Authoritarianism? (2000).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See also Suzuki’s “The Myth and Reality of China’s ‘Soft Power,’” 2010.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    For one article with this title, see Glaser and Murphy’s “Soft Power with Chinese Characteristics: The Ongoing Debate,” 2009.Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    See Burke’s Rhetoric, 1950, on what “identification” is and how it can be “in the order of love” and not just agonistic (20).Google Scholar

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© John Whalen-Bridge 2015

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  • John Whalen-Bridge

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