chapter  1
26 Pages

Rights and resistance: The changing contexts of the dissident movement


This chapter places the transformed dissident movement in political, institutional and social context. Rapid economic development has brought enormous changes to Chinese society and created a more hospitable environment for individuals to assert and protect their rights. Legal reform has opened a new legitimate political arena in which individuals, including political dissidents, can exercise greater autonomy and even challenge the regime. Rising rights consciousness in Chinese society provides a social milieu within which invocations of rights are more likely to gain broad-based support. Finally, China’s extensive and deepening integration into the international system in general, and its various commitments to international laws and institutions in particular, have placed leaders under new constraints and provided dissidents with new sources of moral support.