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Historical Wrongs and Human Rights in Sino-Foreign Relations: The Legacy of Extraterritoriality

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

In the battle for universal human rights, it may be said that sovereignty has become “the last refuge of scoundrels.” Certainly, this is the prevailing verdict of Western liberal activists with regard to the invocations of absolute self-determination and noninterference by authoritarian regimes in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. These Asia- Pacific governments have defended their heavy-handed response to internal dissent with the position that “State sovereignty is the basis for the realization of citizens’ human rights. If the sovereignty of a state is not safeguarded, the human rights of its citizens are out of the question.”


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