Rohingya crisis needs practical solution, not emotional push

By Ge Hongliang Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/25 22:08:19

According to media reports, Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary U Myint Thu visited Bangladesh last week and inked an agreement with his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohammad Shahidul Haque on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees and a joint working group. This marks progress on the Rohingya issue after the November 23 deal between the two countries to allow the return of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine. This shows that the three-phase solution to the Rakhine issue proposed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on November 19 is being implemented with remarkable effects. It has proven that the Chinese proposal works better than the West's emotional push.

The most complicated and tricky part of the Rakhine issue is the Rohingya crisis. To address the crisis, the primary task is to restore security and ensure peace and stability in Rakhine. In the medium term, there should be a feasible solution to the settlement of Rohingya refugees. In the long term, efforts are needed to resolve the root cause of the Rohingya crisis and of ethnic disputes in Rakhine. Therefore, China put forward a three-phase solution.

In the first phase, an on-site cease-fire should be called and social stability should be resumed so that the people can live in peace without being homeless. Since the conflicts and insecurity in Rakhine are the direct cause of Rohingya emigration, the first phase is of vital importance.

In the second phase, all parties and the international community should encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to keep in touch and strengthen communication so as to find out feasible approaches to this issue. The two parties have reached consensus on the repatriation and review of refugees. In this sense, the Chinese solution is pushing forward the resolution of the crisis.

In the third phase, priority should be given to the root cause of this issue, which is the most difficult part. Poverty and competition for resources in Rakhine comprise the root cause of turbulence and conflicts. Hence a fundamental solution to the Rohingya crisis requires efforts to promote poverty alleviation and development in Rakhine.

Furthermore, the three-phase solution proposal facilitates international consensus on the issue. The proposal entails political consultations and dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh on an equal footing to find a way to properly settle the refugees, ensure peace and stability in Rakhine and promote poverty alleviation and development in this region. As Myanmar Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Aung Thu said in an interview, if Myanmar and Bangladesh successfully tackle the Rakhine issue, the West and the international community would be unable to find any excuse to meddle in or to pressure the Myanmar government.

Actually, ever since China proposed the three-phase solution, international pressure, especially that from the West, has remarkably reduced.

This is in stark contrast to the West's impetuous and reckless push for the Myanmar government to address the Rohingya problem. The Myanmar government led by the National League for Democracy and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi are confronted with an unprecedented challenge, which is closely related to the West's headstrong approach to human rights.

Suu Kyi used to be known for her faith in human rights and was therefore expected by the West to stop the violence in Rakhine and improve the living conditions of the Rohingya. But as she didn't act as expected, she was vehemently lambasted by the West. Though the situation remains to be improved, with the implementation of the three-phase solution, the international community will ease its pressure for a resolution of the Rohingya issue.

In the final analysis, China's pragmatic three-phase solution is more desirable than the West's reckless push in tackling the Rakhine issue.

The author is a research fellow with The Charhar Institute and the College of ASEAN Studies at Guangxi University for Nationalities.


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