The first eighteen months after the Tiananmen bloodshed marked the height of global criticism of China's human rights record. Public opinion and international and domestic NGOs prompted governments to act within UN channels, to toughen bilateral policies, and to form coalitions of the like-minded. UN Special Rapporteurs fulfilled their mandates, as did the UN Sub-Commission and its parent body, the UNCHR. Either through the imposition of diplomatic and economic sanctions, or through public condemnation, they all performed roles as reasonably stern 'teachers of norms' for this period. 1 In response, the Chinese leadership moved through the phases of intense repression of political activists, and the argument that international action represented unwarranted interference in its internal affairs, to a time of tactical concessions and limited engagement in the discourse on human rights, marked most obviously by the publication of the White Paper in October 1991.
The years 1992 to 1995, however, quickly gave some indication of the difficulties that would be faced by those who wished to move China beyond tactical concessions towards genuine acceptance of the validity of some of the core human rights norms. Major Western states, together with Japan, continued to reduce the bilateral pressure, for economic and strategic reasons. China's recapturing of its high economic growth rates from 1992 enhanced its ability to pose policy dilemmas for those interested in competing in the China market, as well as for far weaker countries, poised to benefit from China's own economic dealings with them. The Beijing leadership, concerned about threats to the Party-State, uneasy that the global focus on oppression in Tibet might give a boost to the forces of independence there and beyond, and fearful that informed