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China to help Myanmar progress

Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Apr 8,2016 7:56 AM     China Daily

Foreign minister says that Beijing respects the political choice made in neighboring country

Ties between China and Myanmar have been improved, according to Foreign Minister Wang Yi who has just made a two-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

Wang, the first foreign minister invited to visit the country after its new government was sworn in on March 30, met leading figures including Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw and Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing.

He also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counselor, foreign minister and minister of the president’s office.

Wang said after his meeting with Suu Kyi that China respects the political choice made by people in Myanmar.

China could also become an ideal, reliable and long-lasting cooperation partner for Myanmar as it revitalizes its economy and improves livelihoods.

Suu Kyi said the new administration is willing to reinforce cooperation with China-Myanmar’s largest trade partner and investment source.

Ties between the two countries had cooled in recent years, as Myanmar experienced a sharp political transition. Several China-funded mega projects in the country were halted or postponed.

Su Xiaohui, a researcher of international strategies at the China Institute of International Studies, said Myanmar has prioritized China for a long time “despite voices from the outside world denouncing or stating pessimism about the two-way relationship”.

Su said Myanmar highly values the role of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an international financial institution proposed by China that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.

Zhang Xuegang, a Southeast Asian studies expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that as a result of Wang’s visit, the two counties “are ushering in a new era that highlights each other’s reasoned and objective views”.

Myanmar has stayed true to its beliefs despite political pressure from the West, Zhang said.

“The two countries are once again subscribing to regular two-way contacts based on national interests and public welfare, which is good news,” Zhang added.

A joint venture agreement to build, operate and transfer an oil refinery in Dawei, Myanmar, that would handle 5 million metric tons per year was signed on March 29. The four-party agreement included Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Co.

On the same day, an investment license for the project was signed and approved by Myanmar, according to the Chinese company’s website.