China's emerging roles in the international refugee protection regime

 Song Lili

In February 2014, China’s Vice Foreign Minister, Mr Li Baodong, criticised Australia’s refugee policy during the 15th Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue. In response, Australian commentators claimed that Li’s comments were hypocritical and that Beijing did itself no favour by raising the refugee issue.

Indeed, China has rarely, if ever, taken the initiative to openly bring up the issue of refugee protection with other countries except during the 2014 Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue. For decades, China has been perceived mainly as a source of refugees and asylum seekers. Its engagement in the international refugee protection regime has been relatively limited and largely escaped international attention. Most people would be surprised to know that China was one of the first Asian state parties to accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol and that China accepted and locally settled 300,000 Indochinese refugees in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Li’s comments signalled the Chinese government’s growing interest in greater involvement in, and probably greater influence on, the international refugee protection regime in recent years. China is emerging as a destination and transit country for refugees and asylum seekers, most notably those from North Korea and Myanmar, in the past two decades. As the world’s second largest economy and a member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), China has the potential to significantly influence and contribute to the international refugee protection regime.

This seminar will examine China’s experience with refugees and asylum seekers, its interactions with the UNHCR and other major actors in the field of refugee protection, and its potential roles in the international refugee protection regime, especial in the Asia-Pacific region.

About the Speaker

Song Lili is an Australian Endeavour Research Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU. Her research focuses on Chinese refugee law and policy as well as China’s emerging roles in the international refugee protection regime. Dr Song received her PhD in Law from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She was previously a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Forced Migration Studies at the Buffet Centre, Northwestern University, United States and has experience with the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs in New York City, United States and the New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Services in Wellington, New Zealand. She is qualified to practice law in China.

After the Seminar

To allow for informal discussion, the seminar will be followed by a dinner with the guest speaker at 6:15pm. The location of the restaurant will be announced at the seminar. All are welcome, though those who attend will need to pay for their own food and drinks. As reservations must be made at the restaurant, please RSVP by noon of the day before the seminar to

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the China Institute, the Research School of Asia and the Pacific, and the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University.


Song Lili

Dates & times

Thursday, 6 August 2015

4.00pm - 5.30pm


Seminar Rooms, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU

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