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China’s foreign minister said that the international community must help fight poverty and promote development in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee amid a military crackdown.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the comments after meeting in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, with the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as its president, Htin Kyaw, and its powerful military chief, Min Aung Hlaing.
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine for neighboring Bangladesh since late August, when the military launched what it called “clearance operations” in response to insurgent attacks on security posts. The refugees say soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them and burned their villages to force them to flee.
The campaign has been described by the United Nations as “text book example of ethnic cleansing” and drawn extensive outrage from the international community. China, a long-standing friend of Myanmar during the Southeast Asian country’s isolation from the West, has been helping shield Myanmar from the criticism.
Wang said at a news conference that China has a “three-stage plan” to solve the Rohingya crisis.
“First is to have a cease-fire and to restore order and stability, so the people could stop running away and live in peace,” Wang said.
“In the second stage, all parties should encourage and support Myanmar and Bangladesh to strengthen exchanges, to find a way to solve this issue through consultation on the basis of equality,” he said.
The third stage, he said, is for the international community to help develop Rakhine.
“Rakhine state has rich resources but develops them inadequately,” Wang said.”We call on the international community to help the region get rid of poverty and increase investment. … China is willing to help and play its part.”
Suu Kyi, who as Myanmar’s leader has drawn harsh criticism amid the crisis that has damaged her image as a democracy activist and human rights campaigner, lauded the relationship between China and her country.
“China and Myanmar are very much different in size and power, but when it comes to mutual understanding, the two countries are friends with the same values,” she said.
Wang Yi made the comments after meeting in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, with the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as its president, Htin Kyaw, and its powerful military chief, Min Aung Hlaing
Wang told reporters in Bangladesh during his trip to Dhaka, where he met with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, that the Rohingya crisis should be solved bilaterally between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and should not involve outside parties.
Myanmar hosts a meeting of Asian and European ministers at which the Rohingya issue is expected to be prominent.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday urged Bangladesh and Myanmar resolve the Rohingya crisis through bilateral negotiations instead of an international initiative.
“The international community should not complicate the situation,” Wang said in a press briefing at the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
“Actions in the United Nations Security Council must help Bangladesh-Myanmar bilateral cooperation to resolve the problem peacefully”, the minister told reporters.
“China supports resolving the crisis peacefully, bilaterally with mutual consultation between Bangladesh and Myanmar,” he said.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since late August driven out by a military clearance operation in Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
“It is a complex situation and needs a comprehensive solution. Economic development of Rakhine State is needed. China is ready to help,” Wang said.
“Myanmar will have to take back their nationals ensuring their safety, security and dignity for a durable solution to the crisis,” Hasina’s private secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted the prime minister as saying
Wang also met with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence in Dhaka and assured her of China’s support in solving the crisis.
“Myanmar will have to take back their nationals ensuring their safety, security and dignity for a durable solution to the crisis,” Hasina’s private secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted the prime minister as saying.
“We will not allow the land of Bangladesh to be used by any terrorist group to commit any act of insurgency in neighbouring countries,” Hasina added, according to Karim.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told Wang that Bangladesh is trying to resolve the issue both bilaterally and internationally as it could not afford the huge burden of the refugees.
A statement from Bangladesh foreign ministry said that when the issue of displaced Myanmar nationals was raised, Wang stated that China would help resolve the issue and will not be partial to any side.
He acknowledged that Bangladesh is facing the brunt of continuing influx of Rohingya refugees, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry statement said.
A delegation of US Congressmen visited Bangladesh to study the Rohingya crisis.
Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kona will also visit Bangladesh this week. ■