China’s and Japan’s winding path to the Refugee Convention: State identity transformations and the evolving international refugee regime
In the early 1980s, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Japan joined the international refugee regime. This timing similarity is puzzling due to the stark differences between the PRC as a communist and authoritarian state versus Japan as a prime example of capitalist development and democratization. Moreover, although both signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Refugee Protocol without major reservations, neither of them has fully implemented these treaties. Discussions regarding the PRC’s and Japan’s engagement with the international refugee regime tend to start with the beginning of the Indochina refugee crisis in 1975. However, this article shows that the early decades of their interaction with the international refugee regime are of crucial importance for a full understanding of the timing and form of accession to the international refugee regime. Although the Southeast Asian refugee crisis played an important role as a trigger, it was the changing character of the international refugee regime and the transformations of state identity in both countries that set the ground for the signing of the refugee-related conventions.