CHINA IS backing Myanmar’s efforts to deal with the Rohingya crisis after de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi came under heavy criticism over the heavy-handed operations in the country’s Rakhine state to suppress the ethnic minority.
On the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday met with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, who is active among Asean members to help end the problem.
Wang said the recent violent incidents in Rakhine state in Myanmar were unacceptable but at the same time the Myanmar government’s efforts to maintain social stability were understandable, according to China’s state run Xinhua News Agency.
The Rohingya issue is complex and sensitive and dates back a long time, Wang said.
It is imperative to reduce tensions, avoid harming innocent people, prevent the spread of the humanitarian crisis, and encourage and support Myanmar and Bangladesh in their efforts to find a solution through dialogue and consultations, Wang said.
China is willing to work with the international community to continue to play a constructive role, he said.
Retno said Indonesia, as the largest Muslim nation, is deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine state and is willing to play a positive role in helping Myanmar and Bangladesh avert deterioration of the situation and find a solution.
More than 420,000 people, mostly Muslim Rohingya, have fled Rakhine state since late last month, after an insurgent attack on a security outpost prompted a “clearance operation” by the Myanmar army.
Suu Kyi, who skipped the UN General Assembly, made a national address in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. Her government has come under severe criticism from the international community, in particular the UN, for lacking substance to deal with what the UN has called “ethnic cleansing” of the minority.
“The military operation must stop, humanitarian access must be guaranteed and the rule of law restored in the face of what we know is ethnic cleansing,” French President Emmanuel Macron told world leaders gathered for the week of high-level diplomacy as reported by Agence France-Presse.
The United States has been careful not to blame Myanmar’s civilian leadership for the attacks because the country’s military retains control of security operations in troubled areas like northern Rakhine. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson felt impelled to call Suu Kyi.
While Tillerson welcomed the pledge to crack down on abuses, he also urged both the government and the military “to address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations” during the telephone conversation, his spokeswoman said.
Macron and Tillerson’s concerns echoed those of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who issued a blunt demand that Myanmar halt military operations. Britain, meanwhile, suspended training courses for the Myanmar military in light of the violence in Rakhine.
“The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations and allow unhindered humanitarian access,” Guterres told the General Assembly.
“They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long.”
Suu Kyi, who is the State Counsellor, defended her stance, saying she is not too soft on the military for its operation to force the Rohingya out.
In her interview with Radio Free Asia, Suu Kyi insisted that military “clearance operations” had ended on September 5 although the exodus of refugees is continuing.
“The Rakhine situation has not been calm and peaceful long before we came into power. However, now that the world’s attention is focused on it, it has become overly sensitive to handle. People have been criticising and faulting each other. If you just look at it narrowly instead of effectively, instead of solving the problem you can make it worse,” she said in the interview.
“These comments are not good for the country, of course. But we have to find out how much truth there is or what evidence they have,” she said.