Currently, refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants have been labeled under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, but countries’ responses are confusing. No one can limit a country’s response to asylum seekers who come despite UNHCR arrangements on this issue. China is emerging as a destination and transit country and is promoting itself as a country with a great interest in global refugee affairs and a mediator of conflict. There are three arguments in favor of this opinion: first, China’s strategy as a mediator between Myanmar and Bangladesh in the case of Rohingya refugees. Second, China and the repatriation of Uighur refugees. Third, UNHCR and the EU have an active involvement with China in the issue of Refugee Protection.
First, China’s strategy as a mediator between Myanmar and Bangladesh in the case of Rohingya refugees. This argument is supported by how China pledged to fund refugee relief projects and partnerships with international organizations for its distribution. This decision shows how China wants to show the international community as an active contributor to the global refugee regime. President Xi Jinping promised to give $ 1 billion to international refugee organizations at the International Cooperation Forum, especially for projects in Africa and Asia.
China’s response to refugees and asylum seekers differs from that of European refugee-receiving countries, which choose to organize and divide them into a dichotomy of cases. China has gradually developed its own refugee policy and strategy in recent years. One of the best cases China has handled is the Rohingya crisis as a third party. China proposed a three-stage plan to Myanmar and Bangladesh to create a stable environment for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
Second, China and the repatriation of Uighur refugees. China is a significant refugee leader as the world’s second-largest economy and a vital member of the United Nations Security Council and the UNHCR executive committee.
Speaking of refugees and China, there will soon be Uighur refugees. In recent years, China has requested the repatriation of Chinese citizens recognized as refugees in Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Albania. Responding to the request, Cambodia repatriated ethnic Uighurs who were Chinese citizens in 2009 because China sent a request note to the Cambodian Foreign Ministry. The Chinese government welcomed the repatriation with thanks to Cambodia for the repatriation of ethnic Uighurs. China also called for the repatriation of ethnic Uighurs to Albania and Nepal.
However, there is also the challenge of the international community in involving China in the protection of refugees, which is to pressure China to respect the provisions of the Refugee Convention fully. The protection and recall of ethnic Uighurs need to be of global concern and ensure adequate protection for refugees in China. It is necessary to read Chinese policies such as domestic stability, border security, and foreign relations to pressure China or persuade it. Ethnic Uighurs still need to be reviewed whether they still get treatment of discrimination and oppression from the Chinese government or not. In addition, China gives a positive response to refugees from other countries.
Third, UNHCR and the EU have an active involvement with China in the issue of Refugee Protection. China’s response to Myanmar refugees is, in fact, not the only one. In 2017, according to UNHCR data, China increased its contribution to the refugee regime program from up to $10 million from the previous year. China’s response to the refugee issue through policy and financial assistance to the refugee regime is a broader commitment to influence. This foreign policy and global strategy evolved from the time of Deng Xiaoping to the reign of Xi Jinping. Jinping is building a plan to play a more prominent role in the United Nations and global governance to support the incredible power of China.
In the 20th century, China was the target of refugees fleeing war, civil conflict, and political repression. For example, hundreds of thousands of refugees came to Hong Kong because of the intelligence crisis (1959-1961). Since the Open Door Policy of 1978, China has opened its borders and become a refugee destination. If the EU, US, and Canada accept refugees from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, China will accept more refugees from neighboring countries, which is more of a challenge. While China proclaimed a new different view, refugees are not migrants. By reflecting foreign policy principles (non-intervention, national sovereignty, and a central role in global governance) integrated with geopolitical conditions.
This Chinese strategy expresses the desire to contribute to humanitarian agencies and refugee issues. China’s increasing concern about the global refugee crisis shows China’s global integration. Unlike the previous wave of globalization driven by countries and commodities, globalization in China views on an individual and social level. In the long run, the issue of refugees will become China’s diplomatic policy because of the international reputation gains made with each refugee policy.
The view that China is emerging as a destination and transit country and promoting itself as a country with a great interest in global refugee affairs and conflict resolution is gaining support from the global community. However, it is essential to review China’s challenges and shortcomings regarding how its non-intervention strategy for refugee-sending countries distinguishes it from other countries practices. Another challenge is that refugees come from ethnic in China itself. Do not forget to evaluate Uighur refugees to see the dynamics of China and the global refugee issue.