China’s millennia-old relations with Myanmar ‘enter new era’

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Bilateral trade reached $16.8 billion in the first 11 months of 2019.

President Xi Jinping said he looks forward to renewing China’s close ties with Myanmar and discussing future co-operation during a trip to the Southeast Asian country starting on Friday.

He made the remark in a signed article titled “Writing a New Chapter in Our Millennia-Old Pauk-Phaw Friendship”, published on Thursday in Myanmar newspapers ahead of his two-day state visit.

Pauk-phaw, which means siblings from the same mother in the Myanmar language, “is an apt description of the fraternal sentiments between our two peoples, whose close ties date back to ancient times”, Xi said.

Myanmar was among the first countries with a different social system to recognise the People’s Republic of China after its founding in 1949.

Xi said that the elder statesmen of the two countries have since made enormous efforts to develop China-Myanmar relations.

“Our relationship has been marked by mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual support. It has become a prime example of equality, win-win cooperation and common development between countries of different sizes,” he wrote, noting that the close ties have delivered real benefits to people in both countries.

China has long been Myanmar’s largest trading partner and its most important source of investment. Bilateral trade reached $16.8 billion in the first 11 months of 2019.

According to Xi, more and more agricultural and livestock products from Myanmar are making their way to Chinese kitchens, with fruitful co-operation taking place in infrastructure construction and many other fields.

The vibrant cultural, religious and personnel exchanges provide solid support for deepening the friendship between the two nations, he added.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, Xi said it is important that the two countries carry forward their traditional friendship and deepen mutually beneficial co-operation to bring this relationship into a new era.

He called on the two sides to continue to harness the vital role of high-level exchanges in guiding their relations, step up communication and co-ordination at all levels and share development experience.

“It is important that we continue to show strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests,” Xi said.

China supports Myanmar in advancing the peace and reconciliation process through political dialogue, he said, asking the two sides to work together to ensure peace and stability along the border.

Xi proposed that two sides deepen results-oriented Belt and Road co-operation and move from a conceptual stage to concrete planning and implementation in building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

“We also need to deepen practical and mutually beneficial co-operation in such areas as connectivity, electricity, energy, transportation, agriculture, finance and livelihood to deliver more benefits to both peoples,” he wrote.

China and Myanmar have designated 2020 as the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism.

“Myanmar’s charming natural scenery and fascinating cultural heritage will surely attract more and more Chinese tourists,” Xi wrote.

Confronted by rising unilateralism and protectionism, the president said the two countries need to strengthen co-ordination and collaboration in the multilateral platforms, such as in the United Nations and within the framework of East Asia co-operation and Lancang-Mekong co-operation.

“Let us work hand in hand to build an even closer China-Myanmar community with a shared future and write a new chapter for our millennia-old pauk-phaw friendship,” he wrote.

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