Bangladesh seeks cooperation from China this time

Chinese ambassador in Dhaka would send a special message to Beijing following Bangladesh’s request about unrest at Bangladesh-Myanmar border

Acting foreign secretary Md. Khurshed Alam (L) and China ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming

Bangladesh has sought cooperation of China to control the evolving situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border as it thinks China’s 'special influence' over Myanmar would play an important role.

Acting foreign secretary Rear Admiral (retd) Md Khurshed Alam made the request during a meeting with Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Monday.

He insisted the border situation should not act as a hindrance to repatriation of Rohingya people to their place of origin in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

The Chinese ambassador assured the acting foreign secretary of Bangladesh that he would send a special message to Beijing regarding the border situation, said an official present at the meeting.

The people of Bangladesh living in villages along the border with Myanmar are in constant panic following the fight between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar Army broke out around two months ago. Several mortar shells fired from Myanmar landed inside the Bangladesh territory while there were incidents of violation of Bangladesh’s air space as well. A person has died and several sustained injuries inside Bangladesh in firing from Myanmar.

Several local people said firing started anew along the Teknaf border on Monday.

The Bangladesh foreign ministry has already summoned the Myanmar ambassador to the country four times following the situation arose along the border. The Bangladesh government also informed the border situation to the ambassadors of ASEAN member states in Bangladesh on 19 September. On the next day, Bangladesh informed the situation to all the ambassadors and high commissioners except the ASEAN member states stationed in Dhaka. Though the Chinese ambassador was invited to the meeting, he did not attend the meeting.

Whether we believe or not in China’s assurance, they will convey the message (of Bangladesh’s request). We believe, they will use the influence they have (over Myanmar)
Acting foreign secretary Md. Khurshed Alam

The meeting between the acting foreign secretary and Chinese ambassador lasted for over one and a half hours. The border situation, its impact and solution to Rohingya crisis were discussed in the meeting.

Following the meeting, both of them talked to newspersons separately. Li Jiming said, “We talked about many issues as friends discuss about. We talked about repatriation of Rohingya people quickly.”

He said the acting foreign secretary raised the issue of border situation during the discussion. This (the border situation) is rather an unfortunate affair.

Meting sources said the acting foreign secretary informed the top China envoys about the latest situation along the Myanmar border and Bangladesh’s position in this regard. He also drew Chinese ambassador’s attention to Myanmar Army’s reinforcement and deploying modern arms along the border in its fight against Arakan Army. He (Li Jiming) was told about the constant panic the people of Bangladesh have been experiencing along the border.

The source said the Chinese ambassador raised question on whether the border situation is intentional or unintentional. To that the acting foreign secretary said Bangladesh side is not involved with any of the incidents of shells falling in the Bangladesh territory, injuries and violation of air space. In that case, be it intentional or unintentional, Myanmar must take all the responsibilities of what happened along the border.

Regarding the infiltration of drone into Bangladesh’s air space, the Chinese ambassador was told that is there any reason to think that Bangladesh does not have the capacity to shoot down the drone? Bangladesh can do that very easily. But the country follows the principle of playing a responsible role in behaving with close neighbours, not the principle of following any animosity with them. That’s why the country is not stepping into the trap Myanmar has laid. But ultimately such instigating behaviour of Myanmar will stoke regional instability.

Mentioning that no Rohingya could be repatriated even in five years of their crossing over into Bangladesh en masse, the acting foreign secretary said there is a disappointment among the Rohingyas about this. That’s why the border situation could make the repatriation move rather complex. In this context, Bangladesh seeks cooperation of China to resolve the crisis.

The meeting sources said at this stage Chinese ambassador Li Jiming said how could China cooperate? The acting foreign secretary then said China has special influence over Myanmar and communications at different levels. Taking the benefit of this communication China has the scope to play an important role to resolve the crises overall. The Chinese ambassador then, mentioning the request of Bangladesh, assured the acting foreign secretary of sending special message to Beijing.

Speaking about whether Bangladesh is assured of such assurance of China regarding the border situation, acting foreign secretary Md Khurshed Alam said, “Whether we believe or not in China’s assurance, they will convey the message (of Bangladesh’s request). We believe, they will use the influence they have (over Myanmar).”