June 29, 2018 / 7:05 AM / 5 months ago

China says feels Myanmar ready to take back Rohingyas

BEIJING (Reuters) - China believes that Myanmar is now ready to take back hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims sheltering in Bangladesh who have fled violence in the former Burma, the Chinese government’s top diplomat told his Bangladeshi opposite number on Friday.

Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali (L) chats with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi before a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 29, 2018. Greg Baker/Pool via REUTERS

Since August 2017, about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a military crackdown in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, many reporting killings, rape and arson on a large scale in the western state of Rakhine, U.N. and other aid organizations have said.

In May, the United Nations said it had struck an outline deal with Myanmar aimed at eventually allowing them to return.

Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said that on Thursday he met minister of Myanmar’s State Counsellor Office Kyaw Tint Swe in Beijing, and heard a report from him on how Myanmar was trying to resolve the repatriation issue.

“I strongly felt that the Myanmar side has already prepared to receive these people who have entered Bangladesh to take refuge,” Wang said, speaking to reporters with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali at his side.

“We really hope to see that the return process, especially the first batch of returnees, can be realized as quickly as possible,” Wang said.

China will provide help and play a constructive role, and China has already provided pre-fabricated houses to Myanmar for those who return, and for Bangladesh China has provided tents and other humanitarian supplies, he added.

“We would like to see and believe that with the hard work of Bangladesh and Myanmar, this repatriation process can begin as soon as possible.”

China has close relations with Myanmar, and has backed what Myanmar officials call a legitimate counter-insurgency operation in Rakhine.

Ali said he had detailed talks with Wang about the Rohingya.

“In this regard we have sought China’s support in ensuring a conducive environment in Rakhine state for early repatriation of these displaced people back to their homeland,” he said.

“China has assured (of) her continued support in resolving this issue. I think we have received tremendous support from China on how to resolve this problem.”

Reporting by Wang Shubing and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry

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