Chinese Special Envoy Meets Myanmar Vice President Over Rakhine Attacks

By Htet Naing Zaw 4 September 2017

NAYPYITAW — China condemns attacks in northern Rakhine State, said China’s special envoy for Asian affairs Sun Guoxiang, who had a meeting with Myanmar’s vice president and chairman of the government investigation commission on Maungdaw, U Myint Swe, on Monday in Naypyitaw.

“We condemn the attacks. We’ve expressed our condolences to the innocent victims and sympathies to the innocent injured and the bereaved families,” Sun Guoxiang told the vice president.

Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacks on police stations on Aug. 25 left at least 59 of the militants and 12 security personnel dead. Since then, clashes between ARSA—deemed a terrorist organization by the government—and the Myanmar Army have devastated communities in the area.

At China’s foreign ministry press conference on August 31, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, when asked about the attacks in Rakhine State, said: “China, as a friendly neighbor, supports Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining peace and stability in Rakhine state.”

China’s concerns over Rakhine State are related to interests in its One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), said political and ethnic affairs analyst U Maung Maung Soe.

Rakhine plays an important part in OBOR, as it is an exit to Indian Ocean and the location of planned billion-dollar Chinese projects—a planned economic zone on Ramree Island, and the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port, which has oil and natural gas pipelines linked with Yunnan Province’s Kunming.

“Therefore, the stability of Rakhine State is important for this project. The meeting shows China’s concerns over its One Belt One Road Initiative,” said U Maung Maung Soe.

Before his meeting with Vice President U Myint Swe, Sun Guoxiang also met Bangladeshi government officials and chairman of the Arakan State Advisory Commission Kofi Annan.

The Myanmar government understands China’s concerns regarding the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port, but hopes that the Chinese government will provide help according to international norms in solving the Rakhine issue, presidential spokesperson of the Myanmar government U Zaw Htay told the press in April.

The UN Security Council convened a meeting after the recent attacks in Rakhine, where China continued to support Myanmar in resisting UN involvement in the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State.

China previously offered help in tackling a diplomatic row between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the issue of Rohingya refugees, Reuters reported in April.

Sun Guoxiang is also the Chinese government’s envoy in peace negotiations between the Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups in Myanmar.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.