This paper analyses China’s voting behaviour, draft resolutions, and statements
regarding human rights issues at the United Nations. First, the paper
focuses on China’s position on respect for state sovereignty in human rights
issues. Whereas Chinese criticism of “external interference” through country-
specific resolutions of the Human Rights Council is well known, this
paper adds to the scholarly discourse by evaluating China’s underlying
rationale. In doing so, the paper identifies where Chinese behaviour is
contradictory and explains China’s strategy of “mutually beneficial cooperation”.
The second part of the paper is devoted to China’s insistence on substantiating
the duties of the individual under international law. The EU fears that
rights of the individual will be made dependent on the fulfilment of duties.
The paper examines this accusation regarding its argumentative persuasiveness.
The final section analyses Chinese drafted resolutions on the right to
development. China’s prioritisation of economic development over political
rights proves to be problematic. This article finds that political rights, such as
freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, must be guaranteed regardless
of a state’s economic development.