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China promoting Rohingya repatriation: Envoy

Published : 06 May 2023 09:47 PM | Updated : 07 May 2023 02:56 PM

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen on Saturday said China, as a responsible major country, has been "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh and Myanmar to promote the repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland.

"A local friend once told me sincerely that many people provide lip-services, but only China is actually doing practical things to proceed with the repatriation," he said.

The ambassador was delivering keynote speech at a symposium as part of the Cosmos Dialogue Ambassadors’ Lecture Series entitled "Bangladesh-China Relations: Prognosis for the Future" at a hotel in Dhaka.

The discussion was chaired and conducted by President, Cosmos Foundation and former foreign affairs advisor Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury. Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome remarks.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char.

A 27-member delegation including 20 Rohingyas visited Myanmar’s Rakhine on Friday to see the preparation to resettle the possible returnees. They visited 15 villages and other infrastructure built for the Rohingyas. Refugee Relief  and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, also the leader of the delegation said, “We returned with 20 Rohingyas after visiting the arrangements made for them around Maungdaw town. I have seen the goodwill of the Myanmar government regarding repatriation. We want to start repatriation.”

Responding to a question, Ambassador Yao said the Rohingya issue is a humanitarian tragedy and it should never happen again.

China appreciates Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina very much as she accommodated these Rohingyas in Bangladesh soil, he said, adding that it is over 1.2 million and Bangladesh has made a very heavy sacrifice.

Due to less interest and less donations by the international donors, Ambassador Yao said they see a very bad situation for the Rohingyas and the only way out is repatriation.

He said Bangladesh and Myanmar have long been negotiating with each other and hoped that the two countries could reach a consensus.

“Certainly, the Rohingya is not a bilateral issue between China and Bangladesh,” the Ambassador said, adding that China, as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, has been working very hard to play the role as mediator and facilitator.

Hopefully, the repatriation would take place through the joint efforts of Bangladesh and Myanmar with the support of the international community. “It will and should be a sustainable process.”

Ambassador Yao said Bangladesh and China have always firmly supported each other on issues of core interests.

"We both pursue an independent diplomacy for peace. We support each other in safeguarding sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national dignity," he said.

The Chinese envoy said they coordinate and cooperate in regional and international affairs, and jointly oppose external interference.

"We have never accused each other on issues such as democracy and human rights. China appreciates Bangladesh's long-term and firm support for the one-China principle," he said.

Vice Dean for Research, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Professor Kanti Bajpai, Senior Fellow and Secretary General of China and South Asia, Center Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS), China Liu Zongyi, Professor, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, China Lin Minwang, Assistant Research Fellow, Institute for International Strategic and Security Studies, SIIS, China LI Hongmei, former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India and the United States Tariq A Karim took part as discussants at the dialogue.

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