China backs Myanmar's Rohingya crackdown

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UN Security Council to meet today to discuss crisis

COX'S BAZAR, BANGLADESH: International divisions emerged yesterday ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on a worsening refugee crisis in Myanmar.

China has voiced support for the military crackdown that has been criticised by the US, slammed as "ethnic cleansing" and forced 370,000 Rohingya to flee the violence.

Beijing's intervention appears aimed at heading off any attempt to censure Myanmar at the council when it convenes today.

China was one of the few foreign friends of Myanmar's former junta.

Beijing has tightened its embrace under Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government as part of its giant trade, energy and infrastructure strategy for South-east Asia.

Myanmar's government denies any abuses and instead blames militants for burning down thousands of homes in villages, including many belonging to Rohingya.

But international pressure on Myanmar heightened this week after United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the violence seemed to be a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".


The US also raised alarm over the violence while the Security Council announced it would meet today to discuss the crisis.

Opprobrium has been heaped on Ms Suu Kyi, who was once a darling of the rights community but now faces accusations by Western powers who once feted her and a slew of fellow Nobel Laureates of turning a blind eye to - and even abetting - a humanitarian catastrophe.

But Beijing offered more encouraging words to her yesterday, with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang voicing support for her government's efforts to "uphold peace and stability" in Rakhine.

"We hope order and the normal life there will be recovered as soon as possible," he said.

The Rohingya minority are denied citizenship and have suffered years of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

At least 370,000 Rohingya, many of whom are children, have entered Bangladesh since Aug 25.

Most are in dire need of food, medical care and shelter after trekking through jungles or braving boat journeys. - AFP

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