As China’s economic and military clout grows, it seeks power and respect. Beijing has intelligently recognized that to gain its desired status, the gap between its middling soft power – its capacity for non-military projection of influence – and its muscular hard power must shrink. Until it confronts difficult issues of global governance – such as the refugee crises – head on, it will not be seen as a responsible burden sharer. China cannot have its cake and eat it, too. To enjoy the advantages of being an international stakeholder, it inevitably has to agree to bear the costs that come with this.
Despite being party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, China has no domestic definition of refugee. Its 1982 Constitution grants it the ability, not the duty, to “grant asylum…for political reasons,” but language from the 1978 version equates “political” with what the Communist Party of China considers “revolutionary movements,” excluding many who would fall under the UN’s definition of refugee.
This article, by China Program Research Intern Jonathan Lesh, was originally published in The Diplomat on July 22, 2017. Read the full article here.