Hegel, the Tiananmen Incident and Falun Gong

in European Journal of East Asian Studies
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Abstract

This paper explores Chinese people's pursuit of human rights through the Hegelian lenses of abstract rights and the master–slave dialectic. By juxtaposing the 1989 Tiananmen Incident and the Falun Gong movement, it illuminates how Chinese people's struggles for human rights have been informed by Confucianism and other Chinese philosophies, although they have also looked to the West for inspiration and endorsement. Moreover, Hegel's very own dialectic reassures us that Chinese people do not need to have an affirmative, conscious knowledge of 'rights' before they pursue them. While the student protests in 1989 were fuelled by a nationwide economic crisis, the Falun Gong movement was the result of an increasingly prosperous but spiritually blighted society. In both cases, the people, like slaves, struggled against their master, the Chinese government, for freedom and recognition so as to attain a full self-consciousness. Thus, this paper appropriates Hegelian concepts and his dialectical view of history to add to the existing criticisms of his Orientalist views, namely his belief that China is a stagnant nation and its people have no independent personality but only a servile consciousness.

Hegel, the Tiananmen Incident and Falun Gong

in European Journal of East Asian Studies

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