China, India can lead efforts to solve Rohingya crisis

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/15 23:15:07

As heavy international criticism toward Aung San Suu Kyi mounts over the brewing Rohingya crisis with a large number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing home, both Beijing and New Delhi showed support and sympathy for the efforts of the ruling National League for Democracy party. While the Western media portrays it as a scramble over the sphere of influence between China and India, the possibility of the two big countries cooperating to help resolve the ethnic conflict in Myanmar went largely unnoticed.

As Myanmar's neighbors, the last thing China and India want is terrorist violence on their doorstep. In the meantime, both countries are well aware of the complexity of the Rakhine ethnic and religious conflict, knowing it will take time for the government to solve such a complex question.

In terms of economics, there are more reasons for the two to cooperate. China's investment in Myanmar reached $18.53 billion in January 2017 and the country plays a unique role in Beijing's Belt and Road initiative. It is impossible for Beijing to remain indifferent. Nor can India's interests be divorced from peace and stability in a nation that forms a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Although India has not yet joined the Belt and Road, it prizes its Act East policy that seeks to reinvigorate cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian nations. Needless to say Myanmar, the gateway for New Delhi's northeastern states to Southeast Asia, is crucial to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Myanmar last month, during which the two sides inked a series of economic, trade, defense, energy and strategic agreements, is proof enough. 

Given the interests Beijing and New Delhi share with the region, the two could cooperate in offering humanitarian aid to Rakhine state, assisting Bangladesh in resettlement of refugees, enhancing economic cooperation with Myanmar and promoting greater integration of trade and investment in the area including the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. 

Such actions by China and India will without doubt help resolve the Rohingya crisis and may even elicit support from more ASEAN nations. Unlike the way the Western media would have it, Myanmar is not a new battleground. In fact, it is a new opportunity.


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