Does String Theory explain how strings emerge? No. It explains how other phenomena emerge from strings. Strings are fundamental to the theory. Likewise, when someone says consciousness, I prefer to say experience, must be fundamental to a theory of consciousness they are saying no theory of consciousness is going to explain how consciousness emerges. They mean it will explain how other phenomena emerge from what would be the tenents of the theory where consciousness is a primitive.
A fundamental theory of consciousness might explain why we are conscious of some brain processes, but not others. It might explain how memories that were always stored in your brain come to the forefront of your consciousness when you remember them. But you would never expect it to explain why consciousness exists or emerges.
Is this defeatism? No. No more than string theory is defeatism. Why do so many claim it is defeatism? Because the emergence crowd is utterly blind to the possibility that consciousness may not be a complex phenomena crying out for an explanation, but a basic fundamental phenomena from which you explain other things.