left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Words of opposition

Updated: 2012-05-24 10:30
By Liu Huawen ( chinadaily.com.cn)

Though international law recognizes the right of expatriates to seek asylum, it defies that the embassies can not offer refuge to citizens of the hosting country. It is inevitable that one thing can be concluded, it is this: can any country nowadays tolerate extraterritoriality? says an article in Lianhe Zaobao. Excerpts below:

Shih Chih-yu, a professor at the Department of Political Science of the National Taiwan University, published an essay titled “How to solve the diplomatic conflicts caused by issues of human rights” in Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper on May 11, 2012. He points out that the US government “tends to flay other countries over human rights; however each time it intervenes it causes a large number of casualties, quite apart from its acts of torturing prisoners which are equally disgusting”. Meanwhile “it sternly continues the use of those human rights defenders as weapons against Beijing”. He presents something of an antidote for humans rights turning into political concerns. It means “going from the notion of abstract humans rights to the very practical solutions of real problems, thus developing an attitude of pragmatism and making human rights return to its original roots”. Shih might get it right in terms of direction, but his two prescriptions have taken the writer by surprise. One is “to allow villagers into US embassies dependant on certain criteria, while the other is “to treat Taiwan as a shelter”.

The wish of Mr Shih to ease conflicts between countries is based on idealizm, yet the suggestions he offers run counter to the function of diplomatic organizations and the fundamental principles and disciplines of international law; Based little on legal theories, it seems rather utopian. According to the writer, people may differ by favoring policies which are either for or against the US, but the views of Mr Shih are neither for nor against that country, but regard the US as a motherland, without any sense of territoriality and domestic identity, and are confusing the practice of law in these three regions which are in themselves two countries.

Mr Shih mentions that the sense of human rights in the US has followed two mindsets since its beginning. One is the liberalism of John Locke, while the other is the international non-government mode posed by Thomas Hobbs; and he agrees with the strong influence of these two big names who claim natural rights. The writer thus understands the reasons for his opinions. However what the writer wants to say is that in the real world where governments exist, the political appeal for a non-governmental society lacks political and lawful foundation, in which the public can be misled.

Liu Huawen, the author, is assistant director of Institute of International Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.