|Statement by Ambassador Wu Haitao at Security Council Briefing on Myanmar|
I thank Ms. Sсhranеr Burgener, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, for her briefing. We commend her efforts. China will continue to support her in working constructively with Myanmar and Bangladesh to achieve progress in the settlement of the issue of Rakhine state.
Thanks to the joint efforts of the countries concerned, countries of the region and the United Nations, we have seen progress recently in the settlement of the Rakhine issue.
Myanmar and Bangladesh were visited this year by Special Envoy Schraner Burgener and held in-depth consultations on the issue. The two countries have actively verified voluntary returnees and have made arrangements for the fourth joint working group meeting.
The Government of Myanmar has committed to gradually shutting down the Rakhine internally displaced persons camp and issuing legal identity documents to those repatriated. As prompted by Special Envoy Sсhranеr Burgener, Myanmar has undertaken to simplify the application process for legal documents. The Myanmar Government has continued to implement the tripartite memorandum of understanding signed with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Development Programme, and approved the quick-impact development projects the two agencies are to carry out in Rakhine state. Turning to the alleged human rights violations, the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Rakhine state held a sixth meeting at the end of January. The commission decided to officially collect information from the public regarding human rights violations.
The Bangladeshi Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Cox’s Bazar local government have registered a total of more than 60,000 people currently seeking refuge and waiting to be repatriated, and they are communicating with Myanmar on their repatriation.
The issue of Rakhine state is one left from history. Its solution lies in tackling both its symptoms and root causes. The top priority is to enable an early return of those currently stranded in Bangladesh, which is the only realistic and viable way to alleviate the Rakhine state crisis. To that end, China has proposed an approach with three phases, namely, the cessation of violations, repatriation and development. We have twice facilitated informal tripartite meetings between China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, during which three important points of consensus emerged on the issue of repatriation, pushing the two countries to address the matter through dialogue and negotiation. That has been widely acknowledged and supported by the international community, including countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Ambassador Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Myanmar and will visit Bangladesh in early March. He will have in-depth exchanges with the two countries on the issue of Rakhine state with a view to fostering mutual trust between the two countries so that concrete measures can be taken as soon as possible.
China is very concerned about the humanitarian situation of the people in Rakhine state and has actively provided humanitarian assistance to both countries. A total of 1,100 housing units have been delivered to Myanmar in order to improve local conditions for settling returnees. In addition, China has provided Bangladesh with ¥20 million in food aid. We will continue to do our part to contribute to the settlement of the issue of Rakhine state.
The issue of Rakhine state concerns Myanmar and Bangladesh; as such, it is up to those two countries to work out a solution. Countries of the region, ASEAN and the United Nations can provide positive and constructive assistance. Late last year, ASEAN Secretary-General Mr. Lim Jock Hoi conducted an inspection tour of northern Rakhine. The ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management recently sent a needs-assessment team to Myanmar to support the repatriation work by the Government. China commends ASEAN for its important role and active efforts in search of a solution to the issue of Rakhine state.
The international community should encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to strengthen dialogue and achieve early repatriation of the first batch of displaced persons so that all those currently seeking refuge can return to their homes as soon as possible. Issues of interest to the international community in the process of repatriation, such as freedom of movement, citizenship and accountability, need to be addressed gradually and properly. Insisting on setting preconditions for repatriation will only render such solutions out of reach.
Development is the fundamental way to resolve the issue of Rakhine state, where resources are abundant yet the development lags behind. The international community should increase support for investment in Rakhine state to help local communities eliminate poverty and promote development to achieve stability. China supports the United Nations in playing a greater role in that regard.
Council members should remain united and avoid applying undue pressure, therefore playing a constructive role in promoting a bilateral settlement of the issue by Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Development Programme should step up their coordination with the Myanmar Government and steadily implement the tripartite agreement. The international community should continue to be patient and create an environment conducive to the implementation by the two countries of bilateral repatriation agreements and advance the settlement of practical issues with a view to achieving long-term peace, stability and development in Rakhine state.
Thank you, Mr. President.