·Sur Journal – Abstract

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Finding Freedom in China: Human Rights in the Political Economy

The question of how best simultaneously to achieve and reconcile the twin desirable goals of good governance and economic prosperity has long been a focus of philosophical inquiry. In the modern (post-war) era, a new and important ingredient has been added to the mixture that binds economic and socio-political well-being – international law, and particularly international human rights law. This paper focuses on the different roles that so-called universal rights and freedoms are said to play in forging, sustaining and destroying the relationship between economic and social well-being, and analyses what are and will be the consequences for the political economies of the West and China. Though certain conclusions are drawn as to the significance of the agency of human rights, the paper suggests that it may yet be – as, reputedly, Zhou Enlai believed was the case regarding lessons learnt from the French Revolution – too soon to say. Original in English.

Received in May 2013. Accepted in October 2013