Myanmar President Says China Friendship Won’t Change

CDT previously reported Myanmar’s parliament would reassess the country’s relationship with China. But as Myanmar transitions to democracy, President Thein Sein told Chinese Vice President, Xi Jinping, Myanmar’s friendship with China would not change. From Reuters:

Chinese officials and media have expressed concern Washington’s renewed interest in slowly democratizing Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, could be part of U.S. designs to dilute China’s influence there and encircle China with pro-U.S. states.

But during a meeting on the sidelines of a trade fair in southern China, Thein Sein said Beijing should not worry.

“Myanmar is at present in a transitional phase, but Myanmar pays great attention to developing relations with China, and its policy of seeing China has a true friend has not changed,” China’s foreign ministry cited Thein Sein as telling Xi.

“China has for a long time provided a large amount of sincere support and help, and stood at Myanmar’s side at the most difficult of times. Myanmar’s people will never forget this,” Thein Sein added, in the statement released late Friday.

China has worried about its relationship with Myanmar due to a halt in the controversial dam project in the Irrawaddy River, and Chinese media has had mixed reactions over the ending of censorship in Myanmar. The Asian Correspondent reports China has persuaded Myanmar to maintain the status quo:

President of Burma Thein Sein will have a trip to the United States after concluding his China trip. He has been visiting China for a trade fair since 18 September. It is Thein Sein’s second trip to China from the time when he became head of state in March 2011.

President Thein Sein has planned to attend the 9th China-Asean Expo and the China-Asean Investment Summit. The 9th Expo in Nanning aims to promote economic cooperation between China and ASEAN. Burma was rewarded the trade fair’s “Country of Honor” this year and President spoke at the opening ceremony on behalf of the ASEAN-member states launch the event which runs from September 19 to 24.

It looks as if China has been trying to keep Burma within its influential sphere since the ASEAN-member country has also been seeking to join in the US-led Cobra Gold military exercise in the Pacific. A senior Thai army officer was quoted by Japan’s Kyodo News saying that Burma expressed an interest in joining the Cobra Gold annual military exercises in the future. China may be concerned about military relations between Burma and the US to some extent.

According to CRIEnglish, Xi is urging Myanmar to ensure smooth implementation of projects between the two countries:

Xi said the two countries should continue to strengthen communication and coordination to accelerate the formulation of mid-term and long-term goals of bilateral exchanges in politics, economy, trade, culture, security and other areas to steadily push forward comprehensive cooperation.

The current development of China-Myanmar relations is generally good, Xi said, noting that China is ready to work with Myanmar to promote the healthy and stable development of the bilateral comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

The vice president said that China will continue to encourage Chinese enterprises to make investment in the livelihoods of Myanmar’s people and other areas. China is also ready to work with Myanmar in agricultural cooperation.

September 23, 2012 10:14 AM
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