Myanmar’s Suu Kyi meets UN chief on Rohingya crisis
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with the UN chief and America’s top diplomat in the Philippines among the crisis for her nation’s displaced Rohingya Muslim minority.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told her that hundreds of thousands of displaced Muslims who had fled to Bangladesh should be allowed to return to their homes in Myanmar.
“The Secretary-General highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential,” a UN statement said.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since late August, and now live in refugee camps.
The crisis erupted after Rohingya rebels attacked police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown that saw hundreds of villages reduced to ashes and sparked a massive exodus.
The Myanmar government insists military action in Rakhine is a proportionate response to violence by militants.
Suu Kyi has been lambasted by rights groups for failing to speak up for the Rohingya or condemn festering anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
Official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday that Myanmar authorities have target to complete construction of repatriation camps and houses for local people in conflict-affected areas in northern Rakhine state in a month.
As part of implementation of rehabilitation and resettlement process by the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD), construction of the infrastructures including buildings, roads, water and electricity supply were launched on November 8 in northern Rakhine state.
Construction of Oh-Htein Hindu village as well as seven surrounding villages with 173 houses and repatriation camps are underway by the authorities since November 8.
The construction of such basic infrastructures has been implemented by construction team, one of nine private sector task forces, which was formed to join the Suu Kyi-led mechanism of UEHRD in northern Rakhine state.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that aides to Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi have warned Western ambassadors that “their pressure on Myanmar in support of ethnic Rohingya Muslims is pushing the country closer to China.” This comes prior to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s upcoming visit to the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
The article also noted the anxiety of analysts from the US, claiming “the Rohingya crisis has touched on concerns about ceding a geopolitical advantage to China.”
US observers have finally done something right after having long interfered in Myanmar’s domestic affairs – taking China’s influence into consideration. But they are wrong again for reflecting on the issue as a struggle for regional influence.
During the Cold War, Washington devoted itself to creating a strategic ring of encirclement around China in Southeast Asia while establishing a US-dominated sphere of influence. However, when analyzing today’s situation in the area, quite a few Americans are still caught in such a mindset.
Beijing is bound to enhance its relationship with neighboring countries for the sake of long-term peace and stability. The projects it has been proposing, including the Belt and Road initiative, are aimed at sharing the successes of China’s development. Nations in China’s periphery which are in urgent need of boosting their economies, like Myanmar, have no excuse to turn down the good faith and benefits provided by Beijing.
China’s influence in the region is rising because it understands complexity. It knows that when helping Nay Pyi Taw resolve the long-standing ethnic conflicts, respects must be paid to the Myanmese government, instead of pointing an accusing finger without providing realistic remedies.
The West is now condemning Myanmar for its violation of human rights simply because the nation did not follow the US suit. The hegemonic behavior will certainly not be accepted by Nay Pyi Taw and will only serve to erode the West’s sway in the country.
Suu Kyi adopted a flexible diplomatic approach after assuming office as an attempt to strive for as much support as possible from the international community for Myanmar’s economic development and peace process. The US is now making no secret of its frustration after failing to turn Myanmar into its own turf.
The New York Times once published an article entitled “Did the World Get Aung San Suu Kyi Wrong?” The author failed to realize that the US, or the West, cannot represent the world. This arrogance has disturbed their judgment. In the end, the West will only get the world wrong.
The same goes with US longstanding approach – treating everything as a fight for influence in its foreign policies.
Eventually, those that have been wooed by the US will only move closer to China, as they cannot rely on US moral principles to govern their countries.