China on Monday stressed the need for taking concrete and substantive steps for repatriation of Rohingya people from Bangladesh to Myanmar instead of paying lip service to the issue.
‘They are facing difficulty,’ admitted Chinese ambassador Li Jiming referring to the displaced Rohingya community at a meeting with the press in Dhaka, where he also stressed the need for concrete and substantive steps.
Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh organised the programme at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
Claiming that China is not a major player in resolving the Rohingya crisis, he said China is engaged in a tripartite mechanism involving Bangladesh and Myanmar to facilitate a bilateral dialogue towards finding a solution.
But Bangladesh and Myanmar, which are two main players on the matter, should engage extensively to resolve it, ambassador LI said, mentioning that the meeting of the Bangladesh-Myanmar joint working group should be held frequently.
The last JWG meeting was held in April, 2019.
Under the tripartite mechanism, China arranged a meeting of Red Cross Society of China, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and Myanmar Red Cross Society in Kunming recently, he said, adding that the Myanmar Red Cross Society did not join the meeting.
He said stopping recurrence of violence in Rakhine, repatriation and economic development in Rakhine are essential to permanently resolve the crisis.
On the point of Myanmar’s admission at the International Court of Justice that crimes were committed in Rakhine, Li said China would be respectful to the judgements of the ICJ.
On Chinese position on Indo-Pacific Strategy propagated by the US and India, he said the IPS is not an economic alliance like Belt and Road Initiative of China.
The ambassador also said China is interested in engaging in construction of Bay Container Terminal of the Chittagong Port.
Several other countries, including Singapore and Japan are also interested in participating in bidding for construction of the terminal.The ambassador said that Bangladesh businesses should not consider switching over to other countries, to sourcing goods, as an alternative to China amid Covid-19 outbreak. ‘It will be costly, impossible and unnecessary considering the ground realities.’
The general supply to Bangladesh would not be affected if there are no further restrictions on trade or movement of goods, he said.
The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries was US$18.7 billion last year.
DCAB president Angur Nahar Monty and general secretary Touhidur Rahman also spoke at the event.
More than 7.40 lakh Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The on-going Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 1.2 million, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh authorities.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs