Is China wooing Burma to maintain its projects?
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Is China wooing Burma to maintain its projects?

President of  Burma Thein Sein received a Chinese delegation led by Member of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Yang Jiechi at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw on Monday, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said. Yang arrived in Nay-Pyi-Taw, the country’s new capital, on Sunday for a two-day visit at the invitation of the Thein Sein government.

According to the Chinese State Councilor, the two countries are traditionally friendly neighbors and Sino-Myanmar relations and bilateral cooperation were underway. He acknowledged great steps made by consecutive leaders cementing bilateral relations and mutual friendship. Yang Jiechi highlighted the President’s efforts for steps forward in bilateral friendship and cooperation in culture.

Yang also acknowledged peace talks between the Burmese government and the KIA group held in Myit-kyi-na, the capital of Kachin state, saying China was pleased about it. Yang said he looked forward to seeing a ceasefire agreement as early as possible to build lasting peace and stability along the China- Burma borderline.  China will continue playing a positive role in these relations, he said.

Moreover, he said  his country always respects the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Burma. He also guaranteed to work together for development of both nations’ border-regions and economic development.

Yang expressed hopes for the implementation of the Kyauk-pyu Industrial Zone Project and said China seeks to play a part in the tasks of ensuring development of the southwest part of  Burma. He also made an offer to assist Burma in its XXVII SEA Games, the New Light of Myanmar said.

President Thein Sein said that the people of the two neighboring states have a good relationship, considering that they share a 2000 kilometer-long border. There is a history of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and completion of mutual comprehensive strategic partnership had started during his trip to China in 2011, Thein Sein said.

The country had seen extensive reform processes after his government took office and it was necessary to take lessons from China’s experiences of stability and economic growth within a 30-year time frame. He expressed thanks for the Chinese contribution to disbursement of loans for development of the agriculture sector.

He expressed his country’s welcome towards China’s investment which should assure to create good business enterprise environment and make certain the smooth launching of the two countries’ cooperation projects.

Regarding efforts in seeking peace and stability in the nation, President Thein Sein said his government would carry on driving the peace process to be aware of peace in the Kachin state and guarantee a peaceful borderline involving the two countries.

The President mentioned his thanks to Kyaukpyu Industrial Zone Project as a regional development. He also expressed thanks for the Chinese offer for opening and closing ceremonies of SEA Games and for assisting in Burma’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014.  In addition, he showed gratitude for donation of three Buddha tooth relics to Burma for public obeisance in Yangon and Mandalay.

Next, they held comprehensive discussions on matters related to development of the sectors of health, ensuring peace and stability in border regions of the two countries and cementing bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, the state-run newspaper said.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi also had talks with Burma Vice President Nyan Tun and met the House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann during his visit. He exchanged words widely with Burma parliamentarians, members of political parties and different officials on promoting the two countries’ relations.

According to the Arakan Human Rights and Development Organization, China is planning to construct a major railway-line to link Yunnan Province’s capital of Kunming with the Kyaukphru deep-sea port and special industrial economic zone. The rail line is expected to be completed in 2015 and will provide China’s land-locked southwestern region with a trade outlet to markets in South and Southeast Asia, via Burma’s ports. A disregard of human rights for local stakeholders related to Burmese-Chinese managed development projects on Ramree Island in Arakan/Rakhine state has already been documented, AHRDO said.

China dominates the construction sector in Burma, including numerous hydropower projects and a deep-water sea port project in Kyauk-phru in Rakhine State. The most important Chinese project is a gas and oil pipeline across Burma from Kyaukphru to Ruili, on the China border. The 771-kilometer-long pipeline will provide a shortcut to carry crude oil from Africa and the Middle East into China instead of the sea route via Malacca Strait. The natural gas will come from fields off Burma’s west coast.

Afterward, the 771-kilometer-long Chinese pipeline project has been criticized by local inhabitants with reference to unfair land grabbing, controversial compensation and environmental disaster. Chinese companies should abide by the international norms doing development projects with respect to the voice of the people who live in the province.

According to analysts, criticism of the development projects has been swelling in Burma as pro-democracy and environmental activists have started using their citizens’ rights under the new government, which is calling itself a reformist and working to become a democratic administration.

However, President Thein Sein government has suspended a controversial $3.6 billion Myitsone dam hydroelectric power project in September 2011 since the Chinese-financed project has faced objections from various social strata nationwide, according to the media reports.