China offers way out of Rohingya crisis
The offering of mediation and a practical solution to Myanmar’s crisis shows a welcome facet that is in marked contrast to the negativity and inaction from other governments
China’s new-look foreign policy in President Xi Jinping’s second term is about being self-assured and proactive. Nowhere was that more evident than during Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar, the focus being on helping resolve the crisis over the ethnic Muslim Rohingya. He has put forward a three-point plan that avoids the criticism so common from the West, instead offering a sensible programme of creating stability, working for a solution and development to bring about growth and prosperity. This is what should be expected from Beijing as it becomes increasingly confident about its place in the region and world.
China has expressed concern about the fleeing from fighting of more than 600,000 Rohingyas from their homes in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh. There, they are living in squalid refugee camps, wanted by neither country and lacking necessities. The finger-pointing from the West, with the military and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi bearing the brunt, have gone as far as accusations from the United Nations of a policy of ethnic cleansing. There is nothing constructive about such an approach. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson showed greater understanding during a recent visit, speaking of the complexities, although blaming the military as much as Rohingya militants for the violence. But he offered no solution. China has taken a tack with a better chance of producing positive results. Wang said there should first be a ceasefire to restore order and stability, followed by a process of consultation on equal terms between Bangladesh and Myanmar to find a solution and lastly, an international effort to help the poverty-wracked state of Rakhine develop its rich resources.
Beijing has adopted a more conciliatory approach towards its regional conflicts since Xi laid out his vision at the 19th Communist Party congress last month for China to take a greater role in world affairs. Relations with Japan, Vietnam and South Korea appear to be on the mend. The offering of mediation and a practical solution to Myanmar’s crisis shows a welcome facet that is in marked contrast to the negativity and inaction from other governments.