China endorses Myanmar's offensive against Rohingya Muslim insurgents, Myanmar state media said on Thursday, as the UN secretary-general described the operation, forcing nearly 400,000 people to flee to Bangladesh, as "ethnic cleansing".
The Myanmar military offensive in the western state of Rakhine was triggered by a series of guerrilla attacks on Aug 25 on security posts and an army camp in which about a dozen people were killed.
"The stance of China regarding the terrorist attacks in Rakhine is clear, it is just an internal affair," the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Thursday quoted China's ambassador, Hong Liang, as telling top government officials.
"The counter-attacks of Myanmar security forces against extremist terrorists and the government’s undertakings to provide assistance to the people are strongly welcomed."
But at the United Nations in New York, China set a different tone, joining a UN Security Council expresion of concern about reports of excessive violence and calling for immediate steps to end it.
China competes with the United States for influence in Myanmar, which in 2011 began emerging from nearly 50 years of strict military rule and diplomatic and economic isolation.
Earlier this week, the Trump administration called for protection of civilians.
The violence in Rakhine and the exodus of refugees is the most pressing problem Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has faced since becoming national leader last year.
Suu Kyi is due to address the nation on Tuesday.
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