The 13th GCR Working Seminar: Just Not in Our Neighborhood: China's Views on the Application of the Responsibility to Protect in the Case of the DPRK

By Dr Courtney J. Fung | 8 November 2018 | The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Co-organized with the International Affairs Research Centre of HKIAPS, the 13th Global China Research Programme Working Seminar was held on 8 November 2018. Dr Hak-yin Li, Lecturer of CUHK Department of Government and Public Administration, moderated the seminar.


Dr Fung received her PhD in International Relations at Tufts University in the United States. Dr Fung’s research interests are in Chinese foreign policy, intervention, and International Relations theory, with a particular focus on status. Her book manuscript explains China’s varied response to intervention and regime change at the United Nations Security Council. Dr Fung serves as a member of the Fletcher School Board of Advisors.


In the seminar, Dr Fung explored China’s use of rhetorical adaptation, bureaucratic tactics, and normative engagement to limit the application of the responsibility to protect in the DPRK. Much has been written about China’s progressive approach to the responsibility to protect, a norm that reframes sovereignty as a responsibility, as opposed to a right, of states. It has been argued that China actively works to ensure that states have support for the protection of populations from mass atrocity (pillar 1) and that international assistance supports state capacity (pillar 2). Under certain conditions, China is even willing to endorse the international community executing its responsibility when the state fails to offer protection (pillar 3).


Dr Fung, however, suggested that these agreements of China’s approach to the responsibility to protect are incomplete. She used evidence from China’s foreign policy behaviour at the United Nations regarding the DPRK case to prove the limits of China’s progressiveness: Even the more politically acceptable references to pillars 1 and 2 are subverted by China in this ‘Neighbourhood’ case. Twenty-three scholars, researchers, and students attended the seminar.