China’s role in Rohingya crisis solution between Myanmar-Bangladesh is appreciable

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that the Myanmar government has agreed to take back the Rohingyas through the mediation of China. He said this to journalist after a meeting with representatives of the Chinese Embassy last Thursday. However, China could not confirm when the Rohingyas will be returned to Myanmar. In the meeting, various issues of safe repatriation of Rohingyas and resolution of the crisis were discussed.

The Rohingya situation needs to be resolved diplomatically and via political means, according to the international community. The US and other Western nations keep applying pressure to Myanmar even though they are unable to ensure the safe and willing return of the Rohingyas. As Bangladesh seeks the swift repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar, Li Zhiming, the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, stated that China would serve as a “bridge of communication” and do its utmost to support a timely resolution. China supports Bangladesh’s desire to begin repatriation, and China will keep assisting the two friendly neighbors in finding a solution to this persistent problem. China will make an effort to address this issue effectively because it is one of humanity.

A tripartite method for the repatriation of Rohingyas living in Bangladesh was collaboratively devised by Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China during the UN General Assembly session in September 2019. The three nations decided to establish a cooperative working group to carry out the repatriation of the Rohingya. Due to the security situation in Rakhine State, repatriation has not been possible to date. China started the first round of the trilateral meeting in 2018, and on January 20, 2021, there was a virtual tripartite meeting. The repatriation was scheduled to begin by June 2021 at the conclusion of the negotiations, but it hasn’t yet. By beginning the process of Rohingyas’ return home and fostering a climate that is favorable to their return in Rakhine under the direction of China.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui joined representatives from Myanmar and Bangladesh for a virtual meeting between Myanmar and Bangladesh on January 19, 2022, to discuss the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims. Following the negotiations, all sides agreed to start repatriation. Sincere efforts from China to solve the crises’ underlying problems and improve the situation there. As a result of China’s influence over Myanmar, China can be crucial to resolving this conflict.

However, the ongoing discussion on Rohingya returnees mediated by China is very positive. Thanks to China for coming forward in this regard. Needless to say, Myanmar has the closest relationship with China in the world. When the whole world is against Myanmar, China is shadowing it. Their friendship is bound by strong bonds. China can play the most influential role in solving the Rohingya crisis. It has been proven that no matter how much the United States and the Western world, including the United Nations, threaten Myanmar with regard to the repatriation of Rohingya, nothing is being done.

During the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Bangladesh has asked China for help in returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. A November 2017 agreement to repatriate roughly 700,000 Rohingya who had fled persecution in Myanmar in August had been mediated by China using its clout in that country.

Bangladesh’s state minister for foreign affairs reported Wang as adding that other nations were concerned about Myanmar’s domestic problems and that China vowed to continue working to address the Rohingya catastrophe. Wang also promised to stand beside Bangladesh “on all issues at international forums”

In Bangladesh, there are more than 500 Chinese enterprises operating. China is participating in all of the nation’s major infrastructure projects, including highways, river tunnels, seaports, and its bridges over the Rivers to construct.

China is expected to play a significant role in ensuring the repatriation of the forcibly displaced people to their homeland Myanmar, as a tripartite agreement was signed among the three countries to resolve the Rohingya crisis. China has been engaged in facilitating negotiations between Myanmar and Bangladesh to resolve the long-pending Rohingya crisis. Mr Momen expressed his happiness over China’s role in convincing Myanmar to stop firing along Bangladesh border as it caused panic among Bangladeshis living near Myanmar border.

The Western world has not said much about solving the Rohingya crisis and taking them back to their own country. He talked about various decisions including economic sanctions. The reality is, these words of theirs have been of no use other than just ‘lip service’. We have always said that China’s role and cooperation in solving the Rohingya crisis is very important. If China is proactive, this crisis can be resolved quickly. The government of Bangladesh should take a tripartite reconciliation initiative with Myanmar along with China. Finally, the government has started walking in that direction. It is very positive and the path to solving the crisis is slowly but surely widening. Myanmar has a multidimensional historical relationship with China. China has been providing extensive cooperation in the country’s agriculture, industry and trade. Despite Myanmar’s internal conflict and civil war, the economic relationship between the two countries is expanding. Myanmar is internally at war with about 30 different groups. The country’s government has failed in many ways to prevent civil war. As a result, incidents like shelling are happening on the border of Bangladesh as well. The Bangladesh government is handling the situation with great patience. Continuing the policy of maintaining good relations without engaging in counter-conflict with Myanmar. We believe that a hostile attitude will not solve the crisis. Rather, it is necessary to focus on how to increase the relationship related to the interests of the two countries. Bangladesh can also benefit from China’s cooperation with Myanmar in agriculture, industry and other commercial activities. It can also take the opportunity of investment in agro-industry there. It is important to be proactive about how to get that support. We have trade relations with Myanmar. Fish, rice, wheat and other products are imported from the country. Various products are also exported from our country to the country. Both countries will benefit if they can further increase this mutual trade relationship.

Bangladesh has long ago announced the ‘Look East’ policy in terms of expanding geopolitical and economic ties. Myanmar has no choice in implementing this policy. Myanmar is the main gateway of communication system in expanding our Eastern Economic Relations. In view of this, it is in our interest to maintain good relations and goodwill with Myanmar. There will be no gain in cold relations. From the point of view of reality, the Rohingya crisis will be solved sooner or later, if the efforts continue and the relations between the two countries improve and develop. We think that even in the midst of the Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh should take initiatives to strengthen matters related to mutual interests with Myanmar. To strengthen diplomatic initiatives while maintaining good relations, so that the resolution of the Rohingya crisis is expedited.

Samina Akhter
Samina Akhter
Samina Akhter is a Dhaka, Bangladesh based activist, analyst, writer and columnist.