China on Monday said Bangladesh and Myanmar have accepted Beijing’s mediatory role and agreed to implement a three-phased solution proposed by its Foreign Minister Wang Yi to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis. Over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s violence hit Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August when the military intensified crackdown against alleged militant outfits of Rohingya Muslims.
Wang travelled to Dhaka where he met with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday. He then flew to Nay Pyi Taw and met with Myanmar’s top leaders on Sunday. “Wang Yi proposed initiatives including three phased solution so as to fundamentally resolve this (Rohingya) crisis,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said. “His initiative won approval from Bangladesh and Myanmar. We hope it would resolve the issue and contribute to addressing this crisis,” Lu told media answering a spate of questions.
After his visit to Bangladesh, Wang told media in Myanmar on Sunday that he had proposed a three-phase solution to help settle the issue in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. China mostly refers to Rohingya crisis as Rakhine state issue, the home of Rohingya people who are mostly Muslims.
Addressing a joint press conference with Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi at Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, Wang said the first phase proposes to achieve a ceasefire so that local residents can no longer be displaced. Through joint efforts, the ceasefire has been in place, Wang said. Second, the international community should encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to keep communication in a bid to find a feasible solution to the issue, he said.
The two countries have reached an initial agreement on repatriation of refugees fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar. The third phase is to find a long-term solution, he was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.
Stressing that poverty is the root cause of turbulence and conflict, Wang called on the international community to support poverty alleviation efforts in Rakhine state. China also has extensive investments in Rakhine state. “Beijing has emerged as the top supporter of the embattled Suu Kyi” – the de-facto leader of Myanmar, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported last week.
China, which provided unwavering support for Myanmar’s military junta over two decades, is behind a $7.3 billion deep-water port in Rakhine, which plays a pivotal role in Beijing’s belt and road trade initiative.
It also built $2.45 billion oil and gas pipeline project linking the remote coast of Rakhine to southwestern China’s Yunnan province, 770-km away. State Grid Corporation of China launched a power transmission line and a substation project in Shwebo in Myanmar’s north western Sagain region, and Myanmar has also bought FC-1 Xiaolong multi-role combat aircraft from China, the Post had reported.
Asked whether Myanmar has accepted the ceasefire as per the first phase of China’s proposal, Lu said Wang’s plan focusses not only on the immediate problem but also on the long term fundamental solution to the issue. This three-phased solution won the “acknowledgement” from Bangladesh and Myanmar, Lu said, without elaborating.
Outlining China’s diplomatic efforts, Lu said Wang’s diplomatic initiative has been launched during the current visit. “But for a long time we have been proposing that Bangladesh and Myanmar could engage in consultation and resolve the issue. It is during this visit the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to engage in consultations to resolve the issue. The bilateral consultations are already under way,” Lu added.