Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The door behind the bamboo curtain - Chinese law and policy on refugee status

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posted on 2021-11-14, 12:04 authored by Song, Lili

This thesis systematically considers the law and policy on refugee status in the People’s Republic of China. It considers relevant Chinese legal provisions, applicable bilateral and multinational treaties, as well as China’s refugee policy and practice. It also presents and analyses first-hand information collected through interviews with refugees and aid workers.  China is an emerging destination of refugees and other displaced foreigners. Although China is a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, Chinese law contains no provisions governing the definition of a refugee or the determination of refugee status. Further, there is a gap between the criteria for asylum in the 1982 Chinese Constitution and the criteria for refugee status in the 1951 Convention.  In practice, although the Chinese government has generally allowed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process individual applications for refugee status, the Chinese government has practically performed the function of refugee status determination in large-scale influx situations through policy decisions. In these situations, the security, political, and strategic interests of China have often overshadowed China’s commitment under the 1951 Convention.  China has been cautious about recognising refugees on its territory. However, the Chinese government has clearly demonstrated a growing interest in addressing the issue of refugee recognition within a more formalised framework.  In conclusion, this thesis recommends that China adopt a legal refugee definition in line with the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and develop a predictable and fair national RSD mechanism.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Sawyer, Caroline; Kneebone, Susan; Lanteigne, Marc; Angelo, Tony; Tinsley, Yvette