China’s overseas humanitarian action to assist refugees

Think tank: Chatham House

Author(s): Emily Venturi

June 6, 2022

This report from UK think tank Chatham House explores China’s developing role in responding to displacement crises.

In recent years, China has boosted its support for humanitarian action to assist refugees, mostly through increased funding for multilateral institutions and diplomatic engagement. China’s engagement is mainly development-focused and state-centric, although Chinese non-state actors are also advancing some new activities. The country’s technical expertise in areas such as disaster relief, rural development and digital technologies can make a significant contribution to humanitarian responses. However, it is important not to overestimate Chinese engagement on refugee relief: the issue area remains sensitive within Chinese society and China’s approach to humanitarianism is evolving. Looking ahead, Chinese actors will need to translate high-level commitments into tangible outcomes and partnerships within a transparent framework for overseas humanitarian action. It remains to be seen whether international and Chinese actors are able to navigate each other’s differences in approach and increase collaboration on refugee relief.