First Western book to see the Chinese human rights issue solely from a Chinese perspective. Gives voice to nine Chinese human rights defenders, describing their challenges, setbacks and progress.
How do Chinese people defend human rights in China without going to jail? How can they seek justice without the state hitting back at them? The human rights situation in China is not without its challenges but even so the last decades have seen marked improvements. Even so, much of the international attention on the issue is focused on human rights violations and the suppression of dissent; it is rare to find accounts of people inside China working on human rights who are not being harassed or put into jail.
In what is probably the first Western book to see the Chinese human rights issue solely from a Chinese perspective, Walking a Tightrope gives voice to nine Chinese human rights defenders, describing their challenges, setbacks and progress. Although not denying the fact that human rights are often violated in China, the book points out that there are positive stories and that things are improving in certain areas. That said, many of the improvements described by the interviewees are minor (especially seen with Western eyes), and the book clearly shows that, right now, it is especially hard to promote human rights in China.
What is essential to understand, however, is Chinese law offers extensive protection of human rights in almost every aspect of social life. What then many of the interviewees in this book are trying to do is to secure implementation of the law. This is the really hard part of their work. In this book they describe how and why hey do it – defending human rights, Chinese style.
Table of contents:
Introduction: Human Rights in China? What Rights? xiii
1. Democracy? Of Course! 1 Update: Forced out of local politics 24
2. The Tightrope Walker 33 Update: On the other side's side 51
3. Public Interest Litigation 65 Update: You have to be realistic 85
4. A War of Words 95 Update: Forwards and backwards simultaneously 115
5. Half the sky 125 When husbands hit 142 Update: Evicted 147
6. Legal Minefields 153 Update: Improved conditions for defence lawyers - perhaps 171
7. The Black Children 179
8. Risky Proceedings 195 9. Human Rights in Practice 207
Update: Criticism must be based on fact 225
Chinese Leaders since 1949 231
Historical Chronology 235
A long-term resident of Beijing, Gert Holmgaard Nielsen worked as a journalist and photographer in China from 2003 to 2009. During this period, he working for a range of media outlets, he was radio correspondent for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation for several years. Today, he teaches Mandarin Chinese at a business school in Copenhagen.