Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangladesh to see breakthru' on Rohingya repatriation

Bangladesh to see breakthru' on Rohingya repatriation

Xi visits Myanmar Jan 17

News Report Bangladesh may see a breakthrough on Rohingya issue after the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to neighboring Myanmar next week with an expectation that the Chinese leader will pursue Myanmar military rulers to retake Rohingyas to its Rakhine state, sources in Dhaka and Beijing said. Xi Jinping will begin the two-day trip on January 17, according to Luo Zhaohui, China's vice-foreign minister. It will be the first state visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president since Jiang Zemin's trip in 2001. According to Luo Zhaohui, China's vice-foreign minister, Luo said Xi planned to raise the issue of repatriating Rohingya refugees during his meetings with Suu Kyi and military leaders. "It is an issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh and indeed it is an old question," Luo said. "At the request of the two countries, China has played a constructive role in this regard, including trilateral talks on early repatriation." China's numerous investment projects, the building of the long-stalled Myitsone dam and a deep-sea port in strife-torn Rakhine state are expected to figure prominently during Xi's trip. Bangladesh currently extends makeshift refuge over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar while most of them arrived since Myanmar launched a military crackdown on August 25, 2017, which the UN called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" and dubbed as "genocide" by other rights groups. China emerged as a mediator on Rohingya issue in September this year when Bangladesh and Myanmar foreign ministers held a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations general Assembly (UNGA). Chinese foreign minister mediated the talks which decided to form a Joint Working Mechanism among the three countries to delve into the technical issues of repatriation. Sources said, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to discuss the Rohingya issue with Myanmar President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit. The tripartite meeting also decided that 3,450 Rohingyas who were by now verified by Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Hindu Rohingyas and those living along the "zero-line" would be the prioritized groups for early repatriation. Myanmar's deputy commerce minister U Aung Htoo told local media recently that Xi would sign at least two of the seven agreements needed for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, on Ramree Island in Rakhine, to go ahead. A key part of the 1,700km China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, the Kyaukphyu project - especially the controversial port - was first mooted during Xi's trip to Myanmar in 2009, when he was vice-president. It has been at the centre of a US-led campaign against China's "debt-trap diplomacy" in recent months. Facing enormous pressure at home and abroad, authorities in Myanmar had to cut the budget for the Chinese-backed deep water port from US$7.3 billion to US$1.3 billion in 2018. Luo said in a briefing recently that the countries would seek close economic and trade cooperation through Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative- Xi's sprawling infrastructure and investment scheme spanning Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond. Chinese observers said Xi's trip showed the importance of relations with Myanmar, which is strategically located and stands on the frontline of China's geopolitical rivalry with the United States and other powers in the Asia-Pacific, such as India and Japan. Meanwhile, the suspension of the US$3.6 billion Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River by Suu Kyi's predecessor Thein Sein in 2011 has been a blight on Myanmar's otherwise friendly ties with China - its top trading partner, investor and arms provider. The past few years have seen frequent anti-Chinese protests over the Myitsone dam, the economic corridor and other Chinese projects, with the Myanmar government criticised for failing to protect the country's interests. Thousands of people took to the streets in April when Suu Kyi attended a summit in Beijing on the belt and road scheme Fan Hongwei, an international relations professor at Xiamen University, said controversies surrounding the hydropower project in particular had stymied bilateral relations, and top leaders needed to resolve the issue. "It would be a big loss for both countries if their ties hinged on a single dam project," he said, adding that it would be better to just scrap the plan given the anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar. In last two years, no Rohingya returned as Myanmar visibly failed to build trust among them about their safety on their return home. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui said Friday that Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Myanmar next week will further enrich the content of and start a new era of China-Myanmar relations. Luo made the remarks at a press briefing on Xi's upcoming visit. At the invitation of President U Win Myint of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Xi will pay a state visit to Myanmar from Jan. 17 to 18. This will be Xi's first overseas tour this year, and it will also mark the first visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president after an interval of 19 years, said Luo, noting that the visit also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, reports Xinhua. Myanmar is a friendly neighbor of China. At present, the two countries share high-level political mutual trust, in-depth economic cooperation, and close coordination on international and regional issues, said Luo. He said that China-Myanmar "Paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship gains vitality with the passage of time and enjoys lasting charms, and the two countries have high-level people-to-people exchanges. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 70 years ago, the two countries have constantly developed ties on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual assistance, and have established a model of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries of different sizes. According to Luo, during the visit, Xi will attend a series of state events held by his Myanmar counterpart, hold talks with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and attend a bilateral cooperation document exchange ceremony and a banquet held by Aung San Suu Kyi. Xi will also meet with Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing, exchange views with the leaders of Myanmar's parliament and political parties, and attend, together with leaders of Myanmar, activities marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties and the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar culture and tourism year. The two sides will also issue a joint statement. Luo said the two sides will summarize the experience of exchanges between the two countries, chart the course for future development, further enrich the content of bilateral relations, make efforts to build a community of shared future for China and Myanmar, and start a new era of China-Myanmar relations. The two sides will also discuss deepening high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and promote the transition of the China-Myanmar economic corridor from conceptual planning to substantive construction, to achieve progress in major connectivity projects. Moreover, the two sides will also expand people-to-people exchanges to cement a social foundation for the development of ties. Xi's upcoming visit will uplift the positioning of political relations, deepen connectivity cooperation, advance the construction of the China-Myanmar economic corridor, and promote China-Myanmar relations to a higher level, said Luo. ...... Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Myanmar next week to boost ties and push investment projects, in a show of support for Aung San Suu Kyi's government as it faces global condemnation over its treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Xi Jinping will begin the two-day trip on January 17, according to Luo Zhaohui, China's vice-foreign minister. It will be the first state visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president since Jiang Zemin's trip in 2001. Luo said in a briefing on Friday that the countries would seek close economic and trade cooperation through Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative- Xi's sprawling infrastructure and investment scheme spanning Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond. Chinese observers said Xi's trip showed the importance of relations with Myanmar, which is strategically located and stands on the frontline of China's geopolitical rivalry with the United States and other powers in the Asia-Pacific, such as India and Japan. This year marks the 70th anniversary of China's official ties with three Asian nations - Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia. Xu Liping, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that Xi had chosen to go to Myanmar for his first overseas trip of the year, rather than the other two countries, both of which were at odds with Beijing over the South China Sea "It is a critical year for Myanmar ahead of the general elections in November," he said, adding that Xi's visit would be a boost for Suu Kyi, the country's de facto leader and state counsellor. Suu Kyi's government has pivoted towards China in recent years, as Myanmar has meanwhile come under intense international scrutiny over the human rights situation in its northern Rakhine state. More than 730,000 Rohingya fled from the area to Bangladesh in 2017 amid a military crackdown. In a rare move on Friday, Suu Kyi visited the northern Kachin state capital Myitkyina, which borders China's Yunnan province, and called for peace in the remote region, where insurgents have clashed with the army over autonomy and resources.

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