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Panel 1: Expanding Exchange and the Globalization of Norms

Chair: Nora Sausmikat, Stiftung Asienhaus 


Flora Sapio (Law, ANU, Australia): The Making of Shared Global Norms with Chinese Characteristics: What is it That We Ignore About Structures of Chinese Constitutionalism? 

Few syntagms are more polysemic, perhaps, than the words ‘globalization’ and ‘norms’. What is globalization? And how are global norms made? These questions transverse the boundaries of domestic political mechanisms. The making of global norms involves dynamics distinct from domestic decision-making processes, which are situated at the boundary between nation-states, public and non-governmental actors, global elites and their audiences. Given the increasing role China is playing in creating a system of global norms, an understanding of the emerging consensus about globalization ‘with Chinese characteristics’ ought to be premised on how global norms are made, who the actors involved in global norm-making are, and what mechanism are used to create global norms. By definition, any actor involved in the formation of global norms is a constitutional actor. This simple constatation provokes the question of how much do we know about the structures of Chinese constitutionalism. For the most part, Western scholarship on Chinese constitutionalism has identified the birthpoint of the Constitution of China with the promulgation of the administrative Constitution of the state, in 1954. Two other structures exist, which pre-date the apparatus of the Chinese state, and are deeply involved in the making global norms. Despite their importance, these structures are either overlooked, made an object of de-legitimizing narratives, or else they are dismissed as secondary actors in globalization. The presentation will shed light on these structures, as they exist within China’s constitutional system, by describing their domestic and transnational role and functions in the creation of shared global norms.  


Mette Halskov Hansen (China Studies, Oslo)Ecological Civilization: Interpreting the Chinese Past, Projecting the Global Future

Ecological civilization (生态文明) is China’s official ideological response to the environmental degradation that threatens the country’s population and economy. It projects a global future that draws on interpretations of Chinese traditional philosophy and a socialist legacy, and it constitutes an ideological framework for the present development of China’s environmental policies, laws, and education. This paper suggests that eco-civilization is best understood as a sociotechnical imaginary in which cultural and moral virtues constitute key components that are inseparable from its more well-known technological and political aims. The imaginary of eco-civilization seeks to construct a sense of cultural and national continuity, and to place China at the center of the world by invoking its civilization’s more than 2000 years of traditional philosophical heritage as a part of the Communist Party’s solution for the planet’s future.


Eva Pils (Law, London)Human rights with Chinese characteristics as a challenge to global governance

Despite its recognition of human rights norms in the wake of June Fourth, the Chinese Party-State has relied on an array of counter-norms and rights-violating practices to sustain political control. As sought to justify the suppression of human rights challenges brought from within Chinese society by reference to national and cultural specificity, the suppression of human rights claims became part of ‘human rights with Chinese characteristics.’  In the Xi era, the Party-State has sought to re-model law on anti-liberal lines both at the domestic and international levels. Analysing the December 2017 ‘Beijing Declaration’ on human rights and the 2018 Resolution on ‘Win-win Win-Win Cooperation for the Common Cause of Human Rights’ this paper argues that most recently the Party-State has sought to internationalize the Party-state’s state-centric conception of ‘human rights.’ The state-centric view is flawed; it threatens to undermine human rights protection, including in particular freedom of expression.


Adam Yuet Chau (East Asian Studies, Cambridge)China and its Globalizing Religions

In this paper I will examine factors that have contributed to the globalisation of religious traditions emanating from the Sinosphere (mostly mainland China but also Hong Kong and Taiwan). One of the starting points of the paper is positing that China’s religious globalisation is not only about the spread of ‘Chinese religions’ to non-Chinese locales around the world (which is the conventional and narrower definition); rather, it should more importantly include the discursive and imagistic constructions of Chinese (and other ‘Oriental’) religions by foreign observers (and their Chinese collaborators, interlocutors and detractors), which affect the overall contour of the eventual ‘reception’ (including creative adoption, resistance and rejection) of elements of Chinese religions around the world as well as that of their ongoing production/construction within China (by religious communities, by the state, etc.). Some key images and words in this narrative include ‘flows’, ‘encounters’, ‘borrowing’, ‘congresses’, ‘mergers’, ‘exiles’, ‘taking advantage’, ‘collaboration’, ‘collusion’, ‘elective affinities’, ‘mistaken identities’, fetishisation’, ‘dialogues’, ‘appropriations’, ‘mystifications’, ‘accommodations’, ‘politicisation’, ‘resistance’, ‘rejections’, etc. My cases will include a wide range of ‘Chinese’ religious traditions, from fengshui to Tibetan Buddhism, from Catholicism to Protestantism, from the Mazu cult to Islam.