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ZH said on August 12th, 2009 at 5:32 pm    

Do you think a connection can be drawn between the cultural view you’ve illustrated here and the Chinese government’s oft-stated opposition to countries “meddling in other countries’ internal affairs”?

Jason Patent said on August 12th, 2009 at 8:27 pm    

I might. I hadn’t thought of it before. The particularist orientation definitely makes it easier to “excuse” transgressions around human rights. Also, particularism was a popular theme in the 1993 Bangkok Declaration on Human Rights, in which many Asian governments claimed that Western-style human rights don’t apply the same way to their societies, with mostly developing economies. I wouldn’t want, though, to make a strong claim that Beijing’s accusations of “meddling” are a direct causal result of a Chinese tendency toward particularism.

What are your thoughts?

ZH said on August 13th, 2009 at 12:32 pm    

I wasn’t thinking of human rights in particular so much as the Western notion that there are universal norms of behavior that countries are morally obligated to follow, and that the violation of these norms is justification for interference by others. The Chinese government’s stance, as I’ve heard it articulated, is that it’s up to each country to decide how they wish to manage internal affairs. Each situation is different, no universals apply.

Jason Patent said on August 13th, 2009 at 1:46 pm    

Got it. In that case I’d say yes, there appears to be a strong correlation between a particularist bent and the “it’s up to each country” standard of the Chinese government. At the same time, I don’t want to make any claims that the particularist thinking leads to any given behavior in this case. I’d rather say that a particularist justification for a broad range of behaviors is what we’d expect from a particularist national culture like China. Just as we find universalist justifications for a broad range of behaviors from the U.S.: “protecting human rights,” “spreading democracy,” etc.

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