Human Rights and Political Reform in Contemporary China: Views from a Swedish Diplomat and Scholar



Börje Ljunggren,

Date and Time

November 30, 2007 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM November 29.


Daniel and Nancy Okimoto Conference Room

FSI Contact

Laura Seaman

No country is changing as rapidly as China has done since the reform process started close to three decades ago. China - until then a country at the margin of the global economy - has become the third largest economy in the world and the world's second largest trading nation. In some respects, China is hardly recognizable. In other respects, it is very much so. The latter is particularly true of the political system which, even though much less "micro authoritarian" than it used to be, remains Leninist at its core.

At the recent party congress, the word "democracy" was used more than 60 times. Still, the aim is clearly to reform rather than dismantle the one-party state. Respect for human rights has been written into the constitution, but fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association do not exist and the legal system is far from independent of the party. More and more people are, however, demanding their rights and "rights consciousness" is on the rise.

Where will these conflicting developments take China and how should the international community relate to China? There is a lot of talk about containing China but how could that be done and would it be desirable? In practice, most countries, like the US and the member countries of the European Union, Sweden included, try to engage China on a broad frontier, economically as well as when it comes to human rights, climate change and other issues of great concern for the future of us all.

Ambassador Börje Ljunggren, will address these issues on the basis of his own experiences as Swedish ambassador to China between 2002 and 2006 and as scholar.

Ambassador Börje Ljunggren has served as head of the Political Section of the Intelligence Department, Swedish National Defence (1968-70), Regional Economist for Asia at the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) (1970-73), secretary, Swedish Commission for the Review of Development Cooperation (1976-78), deputy director, Area Division, SIDA (1980-83; 1984-86), coordinator, Swedish Asia Strategy Project, Ministry for Foreign Affairs (1997-98), and deputy director general, head of the Department for Asia and the Pacific, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1999-2002). In addition, he has served as Swedish ambassador to Vietnam (1994-97) and as head of the Development Cooperation Office at the Swedish Embassy of Bangladesh (1973-75), Laos (1978-80), and Tanzania (1984). He has been a scholar in residence at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy (1994), a diplomat in residence at the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University (1997), and a visiting scholar at the Harvard Institution for International Development (1990-91). Most recently, Dr. Ljunggren served as the Swedish ambassador to China (2002-06), before accepting his current post as ambassador with the Asia Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This seminar is jointly presented by Stanford University's Forum on Contemporary Europe, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, and by the Dui Hua Foundation.

Event Materials