Presenter Information

Kayla IrishFollow

Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Eric Schluessel

Faculty Mentor’s Department

History/Political Science

Abstract

Given the intricacies of the United States' 'One China' policy and its role in trilateral relations between the United States, the Mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan, it is more important than ever to understand the strategies that both Chinese political entities used to garner recognition and support as they developed into modern states. This project explores how the Kuomintang (KMT), the ROC’s ruling party and ally of the United States, portrayed itself as the defender of human rights in relation to its rival, the Mainland Communist PRC, in order to preserve its recognition in the United Nations between 1958 and 1961.

This time period includes competing claims to the moral high ground regarding human rights between the ROC and the PRC and their mutual allies, which highlight two major episodes of repression. The first includes the Chinese Communists’ continual subduing of Tibet in the wake of its anti-socialist and pro-independence uprising in March 1959. The second event, which occurred simultaneously, involved the PRC and the Soviet bloc trying to turn international sentiment against the KMT for the repression of its own political dissidents beginning in February 1947, a period of martial law known as “the White Terror” that continued until July 1987.

Using United Nations records and diplomatic communications between the ROC and the United States, this project demonstrates that in the years surrounding the Tibetan uprising, human rights rhetoric played an essential role in the Kuomintang and the United States’s strategy to create an image of the Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China to other liberal democracies of the “West.” In utilizing the Tibetan uprising as an example of human rights abuse, the ROC representatives in the United Nations emphasized their commitment to Western values and models of human rights.

Category

Social Sciences

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Forging an Image of “Free China”: Human Rights Rhetoric and the Controversy of Chinese State Representation, 1958-1961

Given the intricacies of the United States' 'One China' policy and its role in trilateral relations between the United States, the Mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan, it is more important than ever to understand the strategies that both Chinese political entities used to garner recognition and support as they developed into modern states. This project explores how the Kuomintang (KMT), the ROC’s ruling party and ally of the United States, portrayed itself as the defender of human rights in relation to its rival, the Mainland Communist PRC, in order to preserve its recognition in the United Nations between 1958 and 1961.

This time period includes competing claims to the moral high ground regarding human rights between the ROC and the PRC and their mutual allies, which highlight two major episodes of repression. The first includes the Chinese Communists’ continual subduing of Tibet in the wake of its anti-socialist and pro-independence uprising in March 1959. The second event, which occurred simultaneously, involved the PRC and the Soviet bloc trying to turn international sentiment against the KMT for the repression of its own political dissidents beginning in February 1947, a period of martial law known as “the White Terror” that continued until July 1987.

Using United Nations records and diplomatic communications between the ROC and the United States, this project demonstrates that in the years surrounding the Tibetan uprising, human rights rhetoric played an essential role in the Kuomintang and the United States’s strategy to create an image of the Republic of China as the legitimate representative of China to other liberal democracies of the “West.” In utilizing the Tibetan uprising as an example of human rights abuse, the ROC representatives in the United Nations emphasized their commitment to Western values and models of human rights.