China has proposed a three-phase ceasefire proposal in the 13th Asia Europe Foreign Ministers Meeting (ASEM) in Myanmar to resolve the ongoing crisis in Myanmar’s, Rakhine State.
Chinese formula –
According to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi –
- The first step in the proposal is to declare a ceasefire.
- The second phase would envision upon the ceasefire to be working and consequently for both Myanmar and Bangladesh to enter negotiations to have a long-term solution for the return of refugees.
- The final phase will target on reducing poverty among Rohingyas and improving their economic and social conditions in the Rakhine State.
Analysing Chinese formula –
- There are strong economic interests in Rakhine state where Rohingyas live in Myanmar. Rakhine State is home to investments by China which includes a plan to build a $ 7.3 billion deep sea port; an industrial park and numerous gas and oil pipelines. These infrastructure projects are crucial for China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, as it would give Beijing several strategic advantages like access to the Indian Ocean and an alternative route to import oil and gas products.
- Chinese projects along the corridor that connects China’s Yunnan province to the Rakhine State gives China the motivation to maintain stability in the region and the necessity to prevent spread of violence that could undermine its infrastructure projects.
- The transition to democratic process in Myanmar has raised local opposition to some of the Chinese projects in the state. Thus, China is attempting to create goodwill by offering its support as a mediating influence in the Rohingya crisis.
- Given widespread international attention to the Rohinya crisis in Myanmar, China’s plans could get international support as many European countries also support the return of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
India’s position vis-a-vis China’s position –
- India’s position is also not much different from that of China’ India has condemned attacks on Myanmar’s security forces and termed it as terrorism.
- New Delhi has several agreements with Myanmar for providing assistance in improving the social and economic conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
- India also supports the return of the Rohingya refugees and has been formulating a more sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis. India has considerable investments in Myanmar; it is not surprising that New Delhi also seeks to have a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Thus, China’s position on Myanmar though is similar to the Indian position. They both support return of the Rohingya refugees and for a long-term solution in ameliorating the condition of the Rohingyas. New Delhi and Beijing may differ a bit in their approach. Other than economic and political interests, India also has to take into consideration the strategic and security implications of the huge refugee influx into Indian cities. The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has emerged as a regional security concern for both India and China. The two countries can play a leading role in helping Myanmar and Bangladesh to find an amicable settlement to the crisis.
Q- China has expanded its sphere of influence in South Asia by proposing a peace formula for Rohingyas issue. What is the proposed formula? How does it differ from India’s position? Elucidate.