All countries should avoid risk of complicating Rohingya situation: China envoy

UNB . Dhaka | Update:

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming talks to media. Photo: UNB

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said China hoped to see an early repatriation of Rohingyas and an eventual solution to the problem.

He also said that they are waiting to see the results that will come out from the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

On China’s view towards the case filed by The Gambia against Myanmar at the ICJ for violating the Genocide Convention, Ambassador Li said that China upholds the international order based on international law.

"Right now, let’s wait and see what results will come out of the court in The Hague," said the Chinese Ambassador during his recent visit to Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps adding that the Rohingya issue is complicated with deep historical and political roots.

He said China supports Bangladesh and Myanmar to solve the issue through bilateral means with the international community playing a constructive role.

All other countries, the Ambassador said, should avoid the risk of further complicating the situation.

Ambassador Jiming was accompanied by Chen Zhu, vice president of IFRC and chairman of Red Cross Society of China to visit Cox’s Bazar on 11-12 December.

At the end of the visit, Ambassador Li, together with Chen Zhu, responded to questions from the media.

Li Jiming said the visit marks another important move of China in carrying forward the consensuses achieved during the third informal meeting between China, Bangladesh and Myanmar in New York this September, and another significant step of China in finding a solution to the Rohingya issue.

Chen Zhu had in-depth exchanges about the current situation with key officials from RRRC, UNHCR and BDRCS, and visited relevant projects by BDRCS and UNHCR in the Rohingya camps.

Before the visit to Bangladesh Chen had a meeting focusing on the Rohingya issue in Geneva, where he publicly called for coordinated actions from IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) for continued humanitarian support for Bangladesh.

Ambassador Li said China highly respects and commends Bangladesh’s humanitarian acts of receiving and providing the displaced Rohingya people with food and shelter. "As a trustworthy friend and partner of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, China plays a unique role in the effort to find a sustainable solution to the issue. And we have been taking actions since the very beginning."

Earlier in November 2017, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi visited Bangladesh and Myanmar to mediate between the two neighbours. He came up with the suggestion of a three-phased solution, namely “cessation of violence, repatriation, and development,” which has served as an important road map for the repatriation endeavour, according to Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.

In the past two years, Wang Yi chaired three rounds of informal meetings between China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, with wide consensus being achieved, it said.

During prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China in July this year, president Xi mentioned to her that China appreciates Bangladesh’s generosity to shelter the displaced people, and will support all concerned parties to handle the issue properly through friendly negotiation.

Ambassador Li told the media that apart from political efforts in advancing the repatriation process, China also contributes in humanitarian support for the Rohingya people.

On 27 and 28 September 2017, China sent two cargo flights with 2000 emergency tents and 3000 blankets for the Rohingyas.

During prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China in July this year, both the countries signed an agreement where China would provide 2500 tonnes of rice to help the Rohingyas. Besides, China also deployed a medical team to provide free health care services to the people.

Following the important political commitment demonstrated by leaders from all three countries, China has been taking proactive actions to encourage the commencement of the repatriation process.

One is the establishment of the tripartite joint working mechanism, directly led by Ambassadors of China and Myanmar to Bangladesh and DG of Bangladesh foreign ministry (Myanmar wing).

The mechanism is aimed at delving into technical and operational difficulties in the repatriation process through candid and frequent discussions, and some common ground has been successfully identified during the first meeting of the joint working mechanism, said the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.

- Verified Rohingyas, Hindus Prioritised -

The 3450 Rohingyas who have been verified by Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Hindu Rohingyas and those living along the “zero-line” are prioritised groups for early repatriation, the Chinese Embassy said.

Myanmar will engage more with the displaced people for building trust by sending senior delegation to Cox’s Bazar and having face-to-face talks with the Rohingya people, and it will change the wording on NVC to removing misunderstanding, it said.

Bangladesh agreed to allocate more resources and manpower to Cox’s Bazar and to adopt a more pragmatic approach to repatriation, said the Embassy.

Ambassador Li said the successful repatriation experiences between Bangladesh and Myanmar from the past clearly suggest that the issue should be resolved bilaterally, while soliciting intervention from outside would most likely add to the complexity of the problem.

He said China believes that it is in the best interest of everyone that other countries in the world, including China, should only offer constructive help and mediation. "And this is exactly what China has been doing the whole time."

There seems to be an over exaggeration of what kind of role China could play in solving the issue, as a great number of people tend to overestimate China’s “influence” over Myanmar, said a media release issued by the Chinese Embassy here.

If someone thinks repatriation will happen simply by China pressuring Myanmar, or that Myanmar will do whatever China says, China is given too much credit, it said.

"Please remember that Myanmar is a sovereign country as Bangladesh is. What China can do is to offer suggestions and coordination as a friend of equal status, and it totally depends on Myanmar that whether they would accept it or not, said the Chinese Ambassador.

Ambassador Li Jiming and his colleague in Yangon Ambassador Chen Hai, as well as so many of their colleagues who care about the current situation, have been trying their best to come up with whatever suggestions they deem the most effective for Bangladesh and Myanmar to consider.

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