Gert Holmgaard Nielsen
How do Chinese people defend human rights in China without going to jail? How can they seek justice without the state hitting back at them? The human rights situation in China is not without its challenges but even so the last decades have seen marked improvements. Even so, much of the international attention on the issue is focused on human rights violations and the suppression of dissent; it is rare to find accounts of people inside China working on human rights who are not being harassed or put into jail.
In what is probably the first Western book to see the Chinese human rights issue solely from a Chinese perspective, Walking a Tightrope gives voice to nine Chinese human rights defenders, describing their challenges, setbacks and progress. Although not denying the fact that human rights are often violated in China, the book points out that there are positive stories and that things are improving in certain areas. That said, many of the improvements described by the interviewees are minor (especially seen with Western eyes), and the book clearly shows that, right now, it is especially hard to promote human rights in China.
What is essential to understand, however, is Chinese law offers extensive protection of human rights in almost every aspect of social life. What then many of the interviewees in this book are trying to do is to secure implementation of the law. This is the really hard part of their work. In this book they describe how and why hey do it – defending human rights, Chinese style.