Chinese initiative needed for Rohingya repatriation


It is encouraging that the issue of repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar within a short time was given importance in the recent Bangladesh-China meeting. Foreign secretary of Bangladesh, quoting prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese president Xi Jinping, said that the two leaders agreed that the Rohingya crisis needs immediate solution and Rohingya refugees should go back to their country.

This news was published by the government-run news agency BSS (Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha). We hope that now the Chinese media will publish this news in detail too and assure the world of this development.

This declaration has reinforced the principles and resolution of the Chinese leader towards the Rohingya crisis. China helped Bangladesh in repatriation of Rohingyas in the past, but the problem is more complex this time. Thousands of Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh in the face of persecution. That is why we are really keen to know the stance of China regarding the crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya people.

Common friends of Bangladesh and Myanmar want success of the treaty related to repatriation. But after two years of the treaty, Myanmar’s reluctance to take back Rohingyas is evident. They are rather holding Bangladesh responsible for delay in repatriation.

There are two big challenges ahead for Bangladesh. Those are -- repatriation and trial of perpetrators in International Criminal Court. Bangladesh expects strong support from friendly states including China to compel Myanmar to take back Rohingyas.

Alongside of China, India, Russia and Japan’s support is also key in this regard. The US and other western countries are supporting Bangladesh in Rohingya issue. Bangladesh has no option other than vocal diplomacy since quiet diplomacy has failed. Strategic partners such as China should understand that Bangladesh does not have any alternative. They should consider the fact that Bangladesh has given enough time to resolve the problem bilaterally.

Relations with China have turned into strategic partnership since president Xi’s historic Bangladesh visit in 2016. On the other hand, Xi termed China-Myanmar military cooperation as an important part of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in his meeting with Myanmar’s defense leader in last April. The two leaders also vowed to implement Belt and Road cooperation. Bangladesh, too, is big supporter of that Chinese initiative. Stability in Rakhine state is also intertwined with implementation of Belt and Road and Chinese-funded gas pipeline in the state.

China is mediating the ongoing peace process of Arakan Army (AA) with Myanmar army. Buddhist organisation AA is simultaneously fighting and engaging in dialogue for autonomy for Rakhine state and to establish a stronghold in the state. They do not consider Rohingyas as their enemy. Myanmar on 6 July said they are interested to talk about ceasefire with AA. The peace-loving Rohingyas, on the contrary, want nothing more than citizenship.

It is a good news that newly appointed Chinese envoy has given due importance to repatriation issue in meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on 4 July. We hope that China will use its influence and goodwill in speeding up the repatriation. It may cause trouble for China too in the future if Rohingya issue is not settled now.

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