The Irrawaddy

Burma Turns Down Chinese Assistance in Addressing Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees lie on the floor of a mosque at Balukhali Makeshift Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

NAYPYIDAW – The Burmese government will not accept China’s offer to help mediate affairs in restive Arakan State, but “will collaborate” with Bangladesh, according to the President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay.

According to Bangladeshi foreign ministry officials, China has offered to help tackle a diplomatic row between the two countries over the plight of tens of thousands of Muslim minority Rohingya who fled violence in Arakan State and sought refuge in Bangladesh since late 2016.

U Zaw Htay told reporters during a press conference on the National League for Democracy government’s first-year performance on Friday that the NLD administration “understands China’s concerns.” He noted China’s development project in Kyaukphyu, a special economic zone in Arakan State, but said that the government would opt to take a more standard path in obtaining assistance in dealing with conflict in the region.

Chinese Special Envoy of Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang was quoted as saying during his four-day trip to Bangladesh this week that they “were ready to help if necessary.”

China has also been offering its assistance in conflicts in northeastern Burma, where fighting has been ongoing between government troops and ethnic armed groups.