In what could be diplomatic challenge to India, China has decided to mediate between Myanmar and Bangladesh over Rohingya crisis.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will head to the two countries, this weekend, to find middle ground on the humanitarian crisis, which has seen more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh.
Owing to exceptionally good relationship with both Aung San Suu Kyi and Sheikh Hasina, India had been aggressively pursuing its interest in both the countries, however the refugee crisis has forced India to choose.
China on its part also has much to loose. Beijing is constructing a US$7.3 billion deep-water port in Rakhine, province where Rohingya muslims are being persecuted. The project is part of belt and trade initiative, linking Bay of Bengal to Chinese Yunnan province.
While both India and China have publicly supported Suu Kyi, Indian voice has been a far more low key affair than the vocal Chinese support. On the Bangladesh front too, India has been handling Bangladeshi concerns mostly back channel dialogues, while Chinese are now investing their diplomacy towards a resolution.
The visit is definitely a challenge to India’s efforts in the region and it would good to watch if Sushma Swaraj’s diplomatic corps can hold the fort.