This paper explores the causes of China’s changing policies and behaviors related to refugees. Taking a different approach from the existing literature that focuses mainly on geopolitical factors to explain how China handles specific refugee crisis upon its borders, this paper reappraises the classic ‘two-level game’ framework in international relations and introduces two new lines of thinking on the topic. With the changing nature of global refugee crisis since the Syrian civil war, China is incentivized and, to some extent, encouraged by affected states, to play a bigger role in reshaping global refugee governance since president Xi Jinping took power in 2012. Moreover, after four decades of global integration, there are domestic and societal demands for the Chinese government to revise its laws and institutions to better manage international migration, both voluntary and forced. China’s future position on refugee politics depends on the configuration of its global strategy and domestic migration policies.
Fengshi Wu is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations in the School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. She specializes in environmental politics, state-society relations, and global governance with the empirical focus on China and Asia. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute (2008-2009) and a Graduate Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (2004). Her academic works have appeared in China Journal, VOLUNTAS, China Quarterly, Global Environmental Politics, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Journal of Contemporary China and International Studies Quarterly. She recently edited the book China’s Global Conquest for Resources (Routledge, 2017) on Chinese overseas investment in and acquisition of natural resources. A/Prof. Wu received her PhD from University of Maryland, and, before moving to Australia, she held academic positions in Singapore and Hong Kong.
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The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific.