China, Myanmar hail close ties amid Rohingya outcry

2017-12-01 22:18
Rohingya refugee children look on as another child washes her hands during a demonstration on washing hands and sanitation. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP)

Rohingya refugee children look on as another child washes her hands during a demonstration on washing hands and sanitation. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP)

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Beijing - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Aung San Suu Kyi touted their nations' close ties on Friday as Myanmar's civilian leader, under fire over the Rohingya refugee crisis, visited Beijing on Friday.

Suu Kyi was in friendly territory in China and neither she nor Xi publicly mentioned the plight of Myanmar's Muslim minority group as they met in the Chinese capital.

"The (Communist) Party and the Chinese government will, as in the past, continue their policy of friendship towards Myanmar," Xi told Suu Kyi during their meeting, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Suu Kyi, who took office in 2015 after five decades of military dictatorship, gave a speech later during a meeting of world parties hosted by the Chinese Communist Party.

"China and Myanmar are committed to creating closer ties," she said, adding that the founding goals of the CCP - "happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" - and those of her National League for Democracy party are "not that dissimilar".

The Nobel Peace Prize winner was adored by the global human rights community but has since been ostracised for failing to speak up in defence of the Rohingya in her Buddhist-majority country.

The UN and US say the Rohingya are victims of an ethnic cleansing campaign by Myanmar's military that has sent 620 000 of them fleeing into Bangladesh since late August.

Rohingya refugees have recounted widespread cases of rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar's military and Buddhist mobs.

Unflinching support

Myanmar's army insists its crackdown has been proportionate and targeted only at Rohingya rebels.

"Although Myanmar is not yet among the rich and powerful nations of the world, we are ambitious," Suu Kyi said at the CCP gathering.

"Our ambition is to become a responsible member of the international community, willing and able to contribute to its peace and friendship throughout the world."

Myanmar has received unflinching support from China, which has invested billions on ports, gas and oil in Rakhine - including a $2.45 billion pipeline that opened in April.

Xi met with Myanmar's powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing in Beijing last week.

Last month, strong Chinese opposition forced the UN Security Council to drop plans to adopt a resolution demanding an end to the violence.

Beijing has presented its own proposal to resolve the crisis with a ceasefire, refugee repatriation and poverty alleviation.

Decisive measures

Bangladesh and Myanmar have reached a deal to begin returning refugees in two months.

Arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar Thursday, Pope Francis urged the world to take "decisive measures" to resolve the crisis, though he avoided using the term "Rohingya" when he was in Myanmar.

The label is seen as incendiary to some in the Buddhist-majority country who deny they are a distinct ethnic group.

Read more on:    china  |  myanmar  |  rohingya

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