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China Says Myanmar’s Shelling Across Bangladesh Border ‘Unfortunate’

A Myanmar Border Guard Police officer guards the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in northern Rakhine State. / The Irrawaddy

DHAKA—Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Monday termed the Myanmar armed forces’ recent shelling, shooting and military flights across the Bangladesh border, resulting in the Sept. 16 killing of a Rohingya person, as “unfortunate”.

“There was a very unfortunate incident,” he told reporters at the Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Ministry when asked about a meeting with Bangladesh’s acting foreign secretary over recent shelling and airspace incursions by the Myanmar armed forces.

He said they also discussed such issues as Rohingya repatriation and international cooperation.

Quoting sources familiar with the meeting, vernacular daily Samakal reported that during the meeting with Bangladeshi diplomats in Dhaka, Li referred to earlier incidents in which Myanmar military personnel fired across their country’s border with the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. He argued that those incidents were “unintended” and occurred during anti-insurgent operations.

The report added that the Bangladesh diplomat then asked the ambassador whether he also considered Myanmar’s recent actions “unintended”. But the Chinese ambassador kept mum, according to the report.

Acting Foreign Secretary Md Khurshed Alam, a retired rear admiral, told reporters that China, as a friend of Bangladesh, would convey Dhaka’s message to Myanmar, as Beijing had leverage over the Myanmar authorities.

Md Khurshed Alam said they also discussed ways to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar’s Rakhine State from Bangladesh without further delay as per the tripartite commitment agreed by Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.

Bangladesh people living in border areas such as Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar have been panicked by the shelling from inside Myanmar.

Bangladesh officials said that as of Monday, Myanmar armed forces personnel had left one of their border outposts adjacent to Bangladesh’s Tambru, and consolidated their forces in a safer place due to a shortage of rations amid fighting in Rakhine against the Arakan Army.

Emerging from the meeting, Ambassador Li also said he had discussed many issues relating to the “early repatriation of Rohingya” and other aspects of international cooperation between the two countries.

On Sept. 18, Dhaka lodged a strong protest with Naypyitaw, summoning Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh Aung Kyaw Moe for the fourth time since Aug. 21 over “the intrusion of mortar shells, aerial firings, and airspace violations from Myanmar, causing death and injuries to the people inside Bangladesh territory”.

The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry on Sept. 20 briefed foreign diplomats and heads of mission at the State Guest House Padma in Dhaka, seeking support from their countries, including the US, the UK and Germany, over the developing situation as Myanmar’s military actions continued along the border. The ministry reportedly informed the diplomats that the continuous shelling along the border had caused damage to life and property and put several thousand Bangladeshi border residents at risk.

No officials from the Chinese Embassy reportedly attended the briefing.