2019 Michigan Chinese Law Conference Update

Written by: Pitman B. Potter
Posted on: October 2, 2019

I am delighted to be able to participate in the University of Michigan China Law Conference being held in Ann Arbor October 11-13. Regrettably I cannot travel to the meeting but am very grateful for the opportunity to present my paper via video conference. The paper concerns China’s efforts to internationalize its controls over political expression, and is drawn from a book manuscript on China’s international human rights activism currently under review at UBC Press.

Freedom of expression has long been symbolic of international standards of governance and human rights, even as controlled political speech in the service of regime authority has remained a pillar of PRC governance. PRC controls over political expression are expressed through policy mandates such as “Document No. 9” and through laws on national security and state secrets among others. PRC controls on political expression are particularly evident in efforts to restrict competing policy pronouncements such as Charter 08, control artistic activities, and suppress rights defenders. Internationally, China seeks to control political expression through Internet restrictions, threats against academic freedom, and promotion of compliant expression through the Confucius Institutes and other means. This paper will examine these issues as part of a larger dynamic of China’s exporting of its human rights standards.