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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.


With the issue of Human Rights, the UK and China start from different places.

The UK narrative begins with the Magna Carta, the Absolutism of King Charles I, the English Civil War, The Great Reform Act of 1832, Votes for Women, Universal Franchise and the Parliamentary system of Government, the Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers. History has witnessed the pushing back of autocracy and its replacement by One Man One Vote and Parliamentary Government.

China’s narrative begins with the absence of representative government and the almost permanent feature of successive strong centralised governments. Throughout the Dynasties that have marked the journey to the 21st Century, China has seen far more authoritarian than democratic systems of rule and administration. There is no tradition of one man one vote and the Party system

Many in Western democracies view China as a country that needs to adopt Habeas Corpus and the protection of the individual as essential protection from encroachment by the State. Only in this way, they say, can the Chinese people become free. But there are quite a few “buts”.

A key function of any government is the protection of its people and here China has suffered approx 5,000 deaths from Covid. The UK figure is 145,000 + rising and the USA is 800,00 + rising. Second, China repeatedly tops the Edelman International Index which measures a country’s population support for its government. Third, 140 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas in 2019 without anyone tourist grabbing the opportunity to “escape” and claim asylum in the West. Fourth, visitors to China regularly report on the positive atmosphere on the streets and in the shops of the cities and in the countryside.

China is more authoritarian than the West. There are no anti-vaccers in China. There is no burning of the Chinese flag in China and dissidents do face an uphill battle to publicise their cause. In that sense, there are limits on personal freedom but view the whole picture and not just a part, and you have the explanation for the unique phenomenon that has turned the “Sick Man of Asia” into the fittest and most contented nation in the world.


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