Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh
Rohingya refugee camps in BangladeshReuters file photo

The governments of Bangladesh, Myanmar and China are planning to hold tripartite talks at the foreign minister-level after the national elections of Myanmar, set to be held on 8 November, to begin the repatriation of Rohingyas without any delay.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has conveyed to Bangladesh that Myanmar recently assured them of taking back Rohingyas, who were forced to take temporary shelter in Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Rakhine state.

The Chinese foreign minister had a telephonic conversation with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen on Thursday evening and conveyed Myanmar’s position to Bangladesh, said the foreign affairs ministry, reports news agency UNB.

The Chinese foreign minister also said Myanmar assured China that they will soon start discussion with Bangladesh over Rohingya repatriation

Before the foreign minister-level tripartite talks, senior officials can hold a preparatory meeting on Rohingya repatriation in Dhaka, said the Chinese foreign minister.

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The decisions of the meeting of senior officials will be placed at the foreign minister-level talks likely to be held in Beijing.

The first such meeting was held in New York, said the foreign minister.

Wang Yi said China has been maintaining regular communication with Myanmar over the Rohingya repatriation issue.

Myanmar assured China of working towards Rohingya repatriation once the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, situation improves, he said.

The Chinese foreign minister also said Myanmar assured China that they will soon start discussion with Bangladesh over Rohingya repatriation.

The United States recently said China has done “very little” to help resolve the Rohingya issue.

“We hope that we see the same level of generosity and the same level of clarity in messages to the government of Myanmar from other partners or other nations in the Indo-Pacific, particularly China, who unfortunately has done very little to help resolve the Rohingya issue and for whom much more should be expected, considering the proximity,” said US deputy secretary of state Stephen E Biegun in a telephonic briefing from Washington recently.

Earlier, Bangladesh made it clear that it wants Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be present at a tripartite meeting to discuss the Rohingya repatriation issue.

“It won’t be done without her presence. She should be there,” Momen told newspersons at his office recently.

Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, has been widely criticised for doing nothing to stop rape, murder and genocide in Rakhine state by refusing to condemn the powerful military or acknowledge accounts of atrocities.

The Bangladesh foreign minister said the first objective of Bangladesh is to see the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine state.

Momen said the Chinese ambassador informed him that they will work out the plan for the next meeting and will talk to Beijing.

The foreign minister said India has also agreed on sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

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During his recent meeting with Momen, Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming expressed concern due to the delay in repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine state.

Momen sought Chinese government’s support for the quick and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

There are allegations that Rohingyas have been getting engaged in drug smuggling.

Momen said there are an increased number of incidents in the Rohingya camps amid the absence of barbed wire around the camps.

Eight people, both from Rohingya and host communities, were killed in a series of clashes in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps recently.

The foreign minister recently said Rohingyas will “jeopardise regional and international security” if the 1.1 million Rohingya people are left unattended and not given the opportunity to return to their homeland.

Repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ “lack of trust” in the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal on 23 November 2017.

On 16 January 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

COVID-19 Cooperation

The Chinese foreign minister assured his Bangladesh counterpart that Bangladesh will get priority once any vaccine is ready for use.

Yi said Bangladesh and China will continue to work together in the post-COVID-19 era for faster economic recovery.

He highly appreciated prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership and success in dealing with the novel virus in the country.

The Chinese foreign minister also assured Bangladesh of continued support from China on COVID-19.

He said the projects in Bangladesh with Chinese support will be completed in an expeditious way once coronavirus situation improves.

Security of Chinese Citizens

Bangladesh foreign minister Momen said the trial of Chinese citizen killing will be completed speedily. Two accused of the case have already been arrested, he added.

Momen also highlighted steps taken by the Bangladesh government to ensure safety and security of Chinese citizens in Bangladesh.

He requested the Chinese foreign minister to take steps so that Bangladeshi students and researchers can renew their expired Chinese visas smoothly.

The Chinese foreign minister said their government is yet to take any decision regarding the entry of Bangladeshi students into China.

He assured Momen that Bangladesh will get priority once entry permission is given to foreign students.

Momen thanked the Chinese government for translating the book ‘Amar Dekha Naya Chin (China),’ written by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, into Chinese language.