Myanmar’s president praises Rakhine state for ‘auspicious’ year

Rohingya refugees gather in the “no man’s land” behind Myanmar’s boder lined with barb wire fences in Maungdaw district, Rakhine state bounded by Bangladesh on April 25, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Myanmar’s president praises Rakhine state for ‘auspicious’ year

  • More than 720,000 Rohingya have fled the western state since August 2017 after the military conducted “clearance operations”
  • Rakhine, one of the poorest states in the country, is also the site of planned economic zones

YANGON: Myanmar’s president said Saturday it had been an “auspicious” year for Rakhine state, the violence-scarred territory and epicenter of the Rohingya crisis.
More than 720,000 Rohingya have fled the western state since August 2017 after the military conducted “clearance operations,” sending a stream of refugees to neighboring Bangladesh with accounts of rape, arson and mass killings — acts that UN investigators say amounts to “genocide” by the military generals.
Another 120,000 of the stateless minority, who are largely reviled by ethnic Rakhine and have garnered little sympathy among the Myanmar public, have been forced to live in displacement camps in the region with bleak conditions and a dire lack of food.
But Myanmar President Win Myint painted a different reality in a statement Saturday when he congratulated the “ethnic brothers and sisters” on the 44th anniversary of the Rakhine State Day.
With no natural disasters, “we can say that 2018 has been an auspicious year,” he wrote in Myanmar’s state-run newspaper.
Rakhine, one of the poorest states in the country, is also the site of planned economic zones, he said, and the government is working to provide “24 hour electricity” to certain townships.
He also praised a pact signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh to repatriate the Rohingya refugees and the arrangements made to receive “those displaced people who have gone over to the Bangladesh side.”
The process which was repeatedly delayed was supposed to finally commence last month but it fell flat when not a single Rohingya took up the offer of repatriation, with many on the returnee list going into hiding.
The refugees fear returning home without guarantees of protection, citizenship or rights from the government and the powerful military. Rights groups have criticized repatriation as premature and “reckless.”
As for those within the camps in Rakhine state, many have attempted to leave by boats to Malaysia and Indonesia since the monsoon season ended last month, enduring a perilous journey to escape what rights groups call “open-air prisons.”
“I wish to urge all Rakhine ethnic nationals and citizens to participate... (in the) transformation of Rakhine State into a beautiful and happy state,” Win Myint said at the end of his statement.
Win Myint was appointed to his position by Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has faced international condemnation for her handling of the Rohingya crisis.


China suspends Canadian meat imports amid Huawei dispute

Updated 26 June 2019
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China suspends Canadian meat imports amid Huawei dispute

  • The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit
  • Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola

TORONTO: China is suspending all meat imports from Canada amid their dispute over the Canadian detention of a top executive at the Chinese tech company Huawei.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on its website Tuesday that the move follows Chinese customs inspectors’ detection of residue from a restricted feed additive, called ractopamine, in a batch of Canadian pork products. It is permitted in Canada but banned in China.
“China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China,” the statement said.
Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO and daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada at the request of US authorities, who want to try her on fraud charges.
China then detained two Canadians and sentenced another to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for her release.
The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit. US President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart amid trade talks.
Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries, complicating high-stakes US-China trade talks and severely damaging Beijing’s relations with Ottawa. Canada wants Trump to speak on behalf of Canada to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese have refused to talk to senior Canadian government officials, including Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Trudeau had hoped to meet with Xi at the G-20 but that appears unlikely.
Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola.
Justine Lesage, a spokeswoman for Canada’s agriculture minister, said in a statement that the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency identified an issue involving inauthentic export certificates that could affect the export of pork and beef products to China.
She said the agency has “taken measures to address this issue and is continuing to work closely with industry partners and Chinese officials.”
“The Canadian food system is one of the best in the world and we are confident in the safety of Canadian products and Canadian exports,” she said.