Bangladesh’s leader arrives in China for talks on Rohingya refugees

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will begin a three-day trip to China today, during which she will meet with Chinese

xi hasina china bangladesh

Photo: VOA

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will begin a three-day trip to China today, during which she will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss, among other things, the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Since the military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state began in August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Ms Hasina will try to enlist Beijing’s support in resolving the refugee crisis by urging it to use its influence to persuade Myanmar to take its nationals back.

Expect her to do so through economic incentive. Chinese investment in Bangladesh is sharply rising. Last year, China became the largest foreign investor in Bangladesh, investing over $1 billion, largely in the energy and mobile phone technology sectors. Given the economic importance of Bangladesh to China, expect Beijing to take the prospect of political insecurity in the country due to the refugee crisis as a serious threat to its investments.

While China is unlikely to accept a significant number of refugees onto its own territory, it will likely be open to diplomatically pressuring Myanmar to work with the United Nations to offer convincing political assurances that repatriated Rohingya refugees will be treated humanely.

Beijing will also consider the prospect of applying economic pressure on Myanmar. However, China may hold off on threatening investment reduction in Myanmar itself because China wishes to sell its Belt and Road Initiative to the country.

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