Commentary: Amid global criticism on the Rohingya disaster, Myanmar finds a mate in China

NEW DELHI: Amid all over the world criticism on her government’s plan on the Rohingya disaster, Aung San Suu Kyi turns to China for aid and friendship. At the invitation of the Chinese authorities, the condition counsellor visited Beijing this week from Nov 30 to Dec 3.  

Although the official purpose of the check out was to consider part in a meeting of the Communist Party of China in dialogue with environment political functions, Aung San Suu Kyi’s check out is mostly observed and construed by several as a little something else.  

Her check out to China is of wonderful interest to the intercontinental media and several observers who abide by modern developments in Myanmar. Provided China’s enhanced function in the region, and the tricky responses of the United Nations (UN) and US authorities on the Rohingya disaster, China’s approach to the Rohingya situation is notable.


Even though China has been partly dependable for sustaining Myanmar’s military routine which put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for about 15 several years, it is the region she has visited most considering that coming to ability in 2016. The latest check out is her 3rd excursion to the region in less than two several years. She visited China in August final yr, and Might this yr.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s August 2016 check out, her very first excursion to a foreign region outside of ASEAN, a regional grouping Myanmar is a member of, highlights the priority Myanmar spots on its northern neighbour.  

Her second check out in Might this yr, as the foreign minister, was to be a part of authorities leaders and other heads of states close to the environment for a accumulating of the Belt and Road Discussion board for International Cooperation.

In all three visits, Suu Kyi had a meeting with officials at the maximum degree in the Chinese authorities, together with Chinese President Xi Jinping.   

Throughout their meeting on Friday (Dec one), President Xi mentioned: “China will manage its helpful ties with Myanmar as it has in the previous, and will see the China-Myanmar marriage from a wider, strategic issue of perspective.” Aung San Suu Kyi equally mentioned the two nations are fully commited to forging closer ties.  

China’s interests in Myanmar are financial and safety in character. The not long ago opened pipeline which runs via Myanmar carries oil from the Center East and the Caucuses to China’s landlocked Yunnan province, therefore making it possible for it to bypass the Malacca Strait.

The pipeline begins at the Bay of Bengal in Rakhine condition in Myanmar, the epicentre of the anti-Rohingya violence. Myanmar is also an important lover of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  

Neither Aung San Suu Kyi nor Xi Jinping publically mentioned the plight of Myanmar’s Muslim minority group. (Photograph: AFP/Fred Dufour)

What’s more, China is a main supplier of military hardware to Myanmar, and has supplied a lot more than ninety per cent of Myanmar’s military transportation in accordance to the Stockholm International Peace Exploration Institute Arms Transfers Databases.  

Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest check out arrives just a 7 days right after Senior Basic Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s military, held talks with President Xi in Beijing through which President Xi assured him of the Chinese government’s aid of Myanmar’s continued development, safety and balance.  


In distinction, the UN and the US have formally explained the systematic violence in opposition to the Rohingya by the Myanmar safety forces as an act of ethnic cleansing, an allegation which the Suu Kyi authorities and the highly effective military establishment firmly deny. They insist that the clearance operations was a proportionate response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army coordinated attacks on Aug twenty five.  

Nevertheless, prevalent noted instances of rape, murder and arson at the arms of Myanmar’s military and the Buddhist ultranationalist groups have compelled a lot more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee into Bangladesh considering that late August.  

Both equally the UN and the US ended up the two staunchest supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy motion previously. 

For Aung San Suu Kyi and her Countrywide League for Democracy (NLD) authorities, it is a difficult improve of circumstances which have resulted in her previous friends getting sturdy critics.  

US Secretary of Point out Rex Tillerson addressing media at a press conference right after a meeting with Myanmar’s Point out Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at Naypyidaw on Nov 15, 2017. (Photograph: AFP/Aung Htet)

CHINA’S Technique IS OF Be aware

Versus this backdrop, the Chinese government’s approach to the Rohingya situation is of be aware. After meeting the Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities leaders on Nov 19, Chinese Overseas Minister Wang Yi proposed a three-staged plan to deal with the Rohingya disaster.  

The very first stage includes a ceasefire to restore get, balance and peace to the circumstance. The second stage includes all functions supporting Myanmar and Bangladesh to discover an amicable solution on the foundation of equality. The 3rd stage phone calls for the intercontinental group to help establish Rakhine condition.  

The Myanmar authorities is appreciative of the Chinese plan, partly since it phone calls for a bilateral solution in between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and most likely partly since the proposal does not point out the Rohingya particularly by identify.  

A tranquil settlement of the Rohingya disaster is in China’s interests. China would not want the Rohingya disaster to stand in the way of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a vital component of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Peace and balance is required for Beijing to implement its financial jobs across Myanmar’s and Bangladesh’s borders.

Beijing also would not want to see the circumstance get out of command and turn out to be a breeding ground for cross-border extremist Islamic terrorism which could likely have spillover outcomes on its personal Muslim minority population.  

It is a positive development that Bangladesh and Myanmar have arrived at an agreement to repatriate the Rohingya refugees. Even so, the dilemma is irrespective of whether the two governments can discover a mutually appropriate solution to the Rohingya dilemma.   

There are some foreseeable troubles, together with how several of these refugees will be ready to return and if they will be able to deliver the required paperwork to prove that they belong in Myanmar, right after Myanmar safety forces and violent mobs burnt down several Rohingya villages and residences.  

Much more than 620,000 persons are crammed into squalid refugee camps near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar. (Photograph: AFP/Ed Jones)

The other main problem is irrespective of whether Myanmar or the intercontinental group can assure in opposition to a recurrence of violence in Rakhine Point out for now, there are no signs of reconciliation in between the Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims.  

Even for all those repatriated, will the Myanmar civilian authorities or the military leadership be ready to grant them citizenship? And most importantly, will authorities be ready to register or recognise them as Rohingya?  

Whilst the intercontinental group can do its part to help resolve the Rohingya disaster, the real solution lies in the arms of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD authorities, the Myanmar military leadership, and the Myanmar population who look at the Rohingya Muslims to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.  

Aung San Suu Kyi may well have her personal strategic calculation for turning toward China but Myanmar cannot afford to pay for to ignore the UN and the US’s function in the country’s peace approach with its ethnic minorities and its democratic changeover. 

Dr Nehginpao Kipgen is assistant professor and executive director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the O P Jindal International College. He is the author of three books on Myanmar, together with Democratisation of Myanmar. 

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