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Thread: China willing to open its pockets, but not borders, to Middle East refugees

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  1. #1
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    China willing to open its pockets, but not borders, to Middle East refugees

    China willing to open its pockets, but not borders, to Middle East refugees

    Others argue that China is still a developing country that has done its job to help resolve crises in Syria and elsewhere

    Monday, 26 June, 2017, 9:02am
    UPDATED : Monday, 26 June, 2017, 9:02am

    China will step up economic aid to help countries deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, but Beijing has no plan to provide shelter for refugees from the war-torn region, diplomatic observers said.

    Their remarks came amid a contentious debate among mainland internet users over the past week about whether China should open its border to help handle the many thousands of people fleeing conflict in Syria and other Middle Eastern nations.

    Foreign Minister Wang Yi weighed into the highly-charged discussion, pledging to help find a political solution to end Syria’s civil war.

    “To solve the refugee problems in the Middle East, we must first and foremost accelerate the political settlement of the Syria conflict,” he was quoted as saying by a Chinese foreign ministry statement released on late Saturday during a visit to Lebanon.

    “Refugees are not migrants. As the situation improves in Syria it is natural that the refugees will begin to return to their country”.

    Noting that Lebanon, which sheltered some 1.5 million Syrian refugees – equal to about a third of the Mediterranean country’s total population of 4.5 million people – was under enormous pressure, Wang vowed increased Chinese assistance to help Lebanon deal with the refugee crisis.

    Analysts believed Wang’s comments showed Beijing was not ready to change its stance on the refugee issue.

    “China has been playing an increasingly active role in the Syrian conflict, but I don’t think China is considering to provide shelter to people fleeing Syria or other war-torn Middle East nations,” said Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran.

    “To be fair, it is not that China has explicitly refused to shelter Syrian refugees or those displaced by war and conflicts in the region. More importantly, refugees from the Middle East usually choose Arab nations or developed countries, such as the US and Europe, instead of China”.

    Li Guofu, a Middle East specialist with the China Institute of International Studies, also said China was not an ideal destination for Middle Eastern refugees due to religious, cultural and political considerations.

    “Wang’s remarks were in line with Beijing’s long-standing policy on the Middle East, which tried to stay away from domestic violence of other nations while trying to live up to its international obligation by providing financial and other humanitarian assistance,” he said.

    Shen Jiru, of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also said it was not fair to expect China to “clean up the mess” in Syria left by the US-led coalition.

    “Despite China still being a developing nation with our own poverty, population and other development problems, it has done its job to help resolve the Syrian crisis. The US and its allies should take greater responsibility for the refugee issue because it was their interventionist policies that created the crisis in the first place,” Shen said.

    How the White Russian refugee crisis unfolded in China a century ago, and the lucky ones who made it to Hong Kong

    Of the record number of 22.5 million refugees globally at the end of last year, 5.5 million were forced to flee Syria, according to United Nations statistics.

    On top of nearly 700 million yuan (US$102 million) over the years, China pledged in January to invest another 200 million yuan to help Middle Eastern nations deal with the refugee crisis.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    Chinese internet users say ‘no’ to refugees from Middle East

    Informal Weibo survey shows very few want door open to people fleeing chaos in region, amid rumours Beijing will change its policy

    Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 1:15am

    Some 97 per cent of respondents in an informal online poll *involving 150,000 mainlanders said “no” to refugees, as rumours spread that Beijing would open the country’s door to displaced people from the Middle East.

    An internet user started the survey on Weibo by using its social media polling functions on Wednesday. Within a day, 150,000 respondents had voted and only 3,798 had said “yes” to receiving Middle Eastern refugees.

    The rumours about China taking in refugees began with media coverage of the plight of the tens of thousands of people displaced by recent wars in the Mid-East.

    Earlier, the UN agency for displaced people, the UNHCR, hosted a film screening on their plight. State media like CCTV have also recently run shows hailing the nation’s relief efforts in the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

    However, some mainland internet users said the coverage was meant to “set the agenda” to prepare people for taking in more refugees.

    Online comments demonstrated a strong sentiment of fear and rejection of Middle Eastern refugees.

    “Dear refugees, we are a horrible country with a dictatorial regime, stinky smog, poisonous food, nasty human rights and absolutely no democracy and freedom. We can’t let you suffer this. Please don’t come here,” Weibo user Cheng Zhifei said.

    “We carried out 30 years of the one-child policy not to make space for them,” said another Weibo user, “Mustached Corporal”. His icon is a picture of Adolf Hitler, and his post received more than 27,000 likes.

    “We don’t need those who abandoned their families to live on another country’s social benefits and commit burglary and rape. And we don’t want to live in the fear of terrorist attacks like Europe!” said another user called Chuya, whose comment was liked more than 5,000 times.

    Other comments said it was the United States and Europe that caused the problems in the Middle East, and that they should take the responsibility.

    Migrants wait at Greece's border with Macedonia, hoping to enter Gevgelija, Macedonia August 22, 2015. Police and soldiers deployed along Macedonia's southern border with Greece struggled on Saturday to control the numbers of refugees and migrants, many of them fleeing Middle East conflicts, seeking to reach western Europe. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski - RTX1P6KK

    Actress Yao Chen, the ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in China, was also harshly criticised by some of her 80 million followers on Weibo for saying that “one day we might become refugees”.

    She shut down the comments on her account over the outcry.

    China has been conservative in terms of accepting refugees, according to Shi Yinhong, an international affairs specialist at Renmin University.

    “The Chinese public is not mentally prepared to allow in refugees,” he said. “And I haven’t heard that the government has any plan or policy to shelter the Middle Eastern refugees.”

    After the refugee crisis began in 2015, rather than taking in refugees from the Middle East, the Foreign Ministry said China would provide humanitarian aid to West Asian and North African countries, to help them settle Middle Eastern refugees in their own countries.

    After the online outcry this week, state media said China’s *official policy on Mid-East *refugees had not changed.
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