BEIJING (Xinhua): Every morning, trucks carrying tonness of crabs and other aquatic products rumble from Myanmar through the Wanding border crossing to a Chinese fish market nearby before being distributed to seafood lovers across southern China.
The Wanding fish market, now complete with a trading building, inspection facilities, walk-in freezers and sewage treatment systems, is a far cry from the crowded, dirty and smelly space it used to be, and bears ample witness to the thriving trade between the two neighbouring countries.
Further expansion has been planned, and traders there now have more reason to be optimistic about the future. Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming state visit is highly expected to start a new era in the long-lasting China-Myanmar 'Paukphaw' -- or fraternal -- friendship.
The visit, over the weekend (Jan 17- 18), at the invitation of Myanmar President U Win Myint, is not only Xi's first overseas trip this year, but the first to the Asian neighbour by a Chinese president after an interval of 19 years.
The fact that this year marks the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties makes the tour significant.
During Xi's visit, the two sides will work toward further enriching their relationship, strive toward building a China-Myanmar community with a shared future, and embark on a new era of bilateral ties, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Xi is scheduled to attend a series of state events held by his Myanmar counterpart, hold talks with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and attend a bilateral cooperation document exchange ceremony and a banquet held by Suu Kyi.
Xi will also meet with Myanmar Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing, and exchange views with the leaders of Myanmar's parliament and political parties. The two sides will issue a joint statement.
Over the past seven decades, the two countries have expanded bilateral ties on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual assistance, and have set a model of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries of different sizes.
In recent years, China and Myanmar have maintained good momentum for high-level contact. Xi has met on several occasions with Myanmar's leaders, with important consensus reached on further advancing bilateral relations in the new era.
Xi's visit means valuable help and support to Myanmar and its people, which is of extraordinary significance to both countries, said Myanmar Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko, adding the visit will mark an important chapter in the history of Myanmar-China friendship.
The two sides are expected to deepen high-quality cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and promote the development of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, bolstering connectivity to the benefit of both peoples.
Myanmar has been an active partner in BRI cooperation, with Suu Kyi chairing a steering committee established by Myanmar's government related to the BRI.
Trade is expanding. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade reached US$13.54 billion in the first nine months of 2019, an increase of 17.9 per cent from the same period in 2018. - Xinhua