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Photo:Tiananman Gate“, by allen watkin, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Chen, Titus C., and Chiahao Hsu. “China’s human rights foreign policy in the Xi Jinping era: Normative revisionism shrouded in discursive moderation.” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (2020): 1369148120957611.


This article applies mixed methods to examine if PRC leadership change in 2012 – from the Hu Jintao government to the Xi Jinping administration – has led to significant changes in China’s international human rights policy. Empirical analyses characterise a discursively moderate China whose international human rights statements in the Xi-era are no more contentious than during Hu Jintao’s time. Despite its communicative moderation, Xi’s China is found to have pursued an agenda of international human rights policy that is more ambitious and revisionist than before. China under Xi’s rule is no longer content with passively defending its human rights governance model but has actively promoted this model internationally. The Xi Jinping administration has undertaken to market its illiberal model of national development as the new universal framework for the international human rights system. By doing so, Xi’s China is bound to undermine the liberal foundation of international human rights norms.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.