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In this Confucian perspective, the protection of human rights and, in general, the respect for private interests seem to be means to achieve a superior goal – the construction of the harmonious society – rather than an end in itself. Such an instrumentalisation of the scope of the protection of human rights means that the need for protection, or the limits of the protection of human rights, is largely dependent on what is superiorly (collectively, publicly, …) defined as public interest.

Significantly, the assertion that the role of lawyers is “more of maintainers of the public interests than spokespersons for private interests” is made in this context by a lawyer and not by a scholar or an official. It is a perspective strongly imbued in the Chinese way of being that encompasses an outdated comprehension of public interests that is both unrestricted and unlimited by individual interests and particularly not by human rights.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • José António Pinheiro Torres
    • 1
  1. 1.MSAR Government and Invited AssistantUniversity of Macau (Administrative Law), MSAR Government HeadquarterMacauChina

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