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Australian foreign policy, human rights in China and the spiral model

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In 1997 Australia changed its human rights policy regarding China from its support for resolutions on China at the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) to the adoption of the bilateral human rights dialogue process. From 1991 to 1997 the UNCHR process had greatly contributed to the Chinese government making human rights concessions such that China could be considered to be in phase three (tactical concessions) of the spiral model of Thomas Risse, Stephen Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink. To progress to phase four (prescriptive status), continued pressures by international and domestic actors are needed so that support and protection is provided to domestic human rights activists. The annual Australia–China bilateral dialogue meetings do not appear to be contributing to those pressures. However, in a limited way given its small scale, the Australia–China Technical Cooperation Program may help to bring about further human rights improvements in China.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Kent

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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