Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses are… China-bound?
In what might be a surprise to many, the world’s most populous nation may also be the world’s most willing to open its doors to asylum-seekers and refugees — Chinese people were at at the top of the list of Amnesty International’s Refugee Welcome Index.
The survey asked 27,000 people globally how they feel about letting refugees into their country, and went a step further by asking if they’d consider opening their own homes up to strangers in need.
In a list of 27 major countries from across the globe, China was ranked as the most welcoming at 85%, just ahead of Germany (84%) and the UK (83%). At the bottom of the list (least welcoming) were Russia (18%), Indonesia (32%) and Thailand (33%).
To the question, “Would you personally accept people fleeing from war or persecution into your country?” 94% of Chinese respondents said yes.
And to the question, Would you personally accept people fleeing from war or persecution into your home?” Chinese people blew away the competition in kindness with an incredible 46% of people answering in the affirmative, compared with 29% of UK citizens and 1% of Russians and Indonesians.
Finally, 86% of Chinese respondents said their government should be doing more to help refugees — again ranking at the top.
Self-consciously aimed at motivating governments to grant greater humanitarian support to the many millions of refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war and other conflicts, Amnesty International has used the results to highlight the clear discrepancy between popular opinion and political action. The NGO hasn’t pointed the finger at any one country, but has instead issued a catch-all cry of “for shame!”:
“The Refugees Welcome Index exposes the shameful way governments have played short term politics with the lives of people fleeing war and repression. Governments must heed these results, which clearly show the vast majority of people ready and willing to make refugees welcome in their country.”
Though Amnesty International has avoided naming names, China must figure prominently in their calculations, as the remarkable willingness of the Chinese respondents (and artist/superhero Ai Weiwei) to help those fleeing violence is in total contrast to the actions of China’s government. To date, China has granted asylum to a mere 30 Syrian refugees, and has no plans to increase that number. A quick look at the government’s stated position yields nothing of substance, apart from the heart-warming assurance that the nation is “deeply worried,” and its leaders are hard at work being “objective,” i.e., doing nothing. According to the UN Refugee Agency, China has taken in about 300,000 refugees, almost all of them from Vietnam.
Apart from the government’s track record of keeping the gates barred to refugees, Syrians in particular are unlikely to be offered asylum, given that the government has already used the emergence of ISIS and the specter of domestic terrorism to redefine its relationship with its own Muslim peoples. With recent flamethrower-assisted hunts to root out Uighur “terrorist” groups armed with knives in Xinjiang, calls to bring Muslim refugees into the country can easily be derided as a threat to public safety and national security.
Though, we should also note that China ranked dead last in an honesty study last year of 15 countries from around the globe.
Apparently, most netizens are calling bullshit as well, via What’s on Weibo:
Doubting the representativeness of Amnesty International’s report, many netizens say: “This organization does not represent me”, “Where does this data come from?!” and: “I would like to know which ‘Chinese’ are surveyed.”
“If this was about any other country, I would believe it – but not about China,” one popular comment says.
A Global Times online survey conducted on the day that the Amnesty survey was published found that 90.3% of Chinese wouldn’t accept refugees in their households and 79.6% wouldn’t accept them in their neighborhood or city.
By Christopher Ivan