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Refugee policies and attitudes - China

The People’s Republic of #China’s role in international refugee protection has long been overlooked. On one hand, The number of Chinese #refugees has risen to 107,000 people fleeing the country annually. On the other hand, China hosted 250,000 #Vietnamese refugees between 1978 and 1982, while after that, except for the #asylumseekers from #NorthKorea, the intake numbers have been rather small.⁣

Moreover, China was also one of the first Asian states to sign the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. However, the country de facto never integrated the international refugee law into its own domestic legal framework. What is more, it has, on many occasions, purposefully misinterpreted the basic concepts of refugee protection according to the Geneva system.⁣

The most representative example took place in 1979 when the Chinese authorities, ignoring the #UNHCR’s directives, methodically treated the incoming Vietnamese refugees as Chinese nationals returning to the country of origin. This policy choice of the Chinese state was obviously taken to support its notorious ideological claims over neighbouring countries.⁣

Because of the lack of implementation of international refugee law, the UNHRC is in charge of registration and status determination of asylum seekers, as well as conducting awareness mobilization campaigns. Right now, around 1,160 people, predominantly from #Somalia, #Syria, #Afghanistan and #Yemen, are registered at the UNHCR office in China.⁣

In conclusion, China has been developing an approach to international refugee law which consists of being a party to the main international treaties, but then acting according to its own rules, which are predictably in contradiction with the dictates of international law.⁣

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