Chinese Foreign Minister Promises Continued Support for Myanmar

By Htet Naing Zaw 20 November 2017

NAYPYITAW — Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi promised continued support for Myanmar amid mounting international pressure on the country over the Rohingya crisis.

The Chinese minister at a joint press conference with his Myanmar counterpart Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw on Sunday urged the UN Security Council to create a favorable environment for Myanmar and Bangladesh to hold discussions on the repatriation of refugees to Myanmar.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since late August, following a military counter-insurgency clearance operation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. But the Myanmar government has denied those figures.

“The bilateral talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh were critical to solve the Rakhine issue,” said Wang Yi.

He suggested ensuring a ceasefire and restoring stability in troubled Rakhine State, signing a repatriation agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh as soon as possible, and Chinese assistance to fight poverty in Rakhine State, which was believed to be one of the main causes of conflict in the area.

Wang Yi said he also gave the same suggestions to Bangladesh.

Saudi Arabia’s delegate on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) submitted a draft resolution entitled “Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar” at the third committee of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on Nov. 17.

The committee approved the draft with a recorded vote of 135 in favor, 10 opposed (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe) and 26 abstentions.

Wang Yi talked about strengthening economic cooperation between China and Myanmar through the One Belt/One Road economic corridor, which will pass through Mandalay, Yangon and Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu Township.

Myanmar favors not only the Belt and Road initiative, but any project that serves mutual interests and forges bilateral relationships between the people of the two countries, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“The main progress between our two countries is that we have now deeper mutual understanding. This is the most important progress because we will be able to solve any problem with mutual understanding,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“China respects the sovereignty, independence and peace of Myanmar. We hope that the government will be able to hold good talks with armed ethnic groups with Panglong Spirit [referring to the 1947 Panglong Agreement, a formula for federalism agreed to by Gen Aung San and Chin, Kachin and Shan leaders],” said Wang Yi.

He also said that defense ministries of the two countries are cooperating more closely to handle conflicts in the northern area of Myanmar where several non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are based.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called China’s cooperation as a neighbor “crucial” for peace, stability and prosperity in Myanmar.

“I hope that China and Myanmar will be good neighbors forever with fraternal spirit,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.