NAYPYIDAW: China and Myanmar inked dozens of deals to speed up infrastructure projects in the South-East Asian nation, as Beijing seeks to cement its hold over a neighbour increasingly isolated by the West.
But no major new projects were agreed during the two-day visit by President Xi Jinping, the first of any Chinese leader in 19 years.
Analysts said Myanmar was generally cautious of investments by Beijing and was also being careful ahead of elections later this year.
Still, Xi and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi signed 33 agreements yesterday shoring up key projects that are part of the flagship Belt and Road Initiative, China’s vision of new trade routes described as a “21st century silk road”.
They agreed to hasten implementation of the China Myanmar Economic Corridor, a giant infrastructure scheme worth billions of dollars, with agreements on railways linking southwestern China to the Indian Ocean, a deep sea port in conflict-riven Rakhine state, a special economic zone on the border and a new city project in the commercial capital of Yangon.
At a welcoming ceremony on Friday, Xi hailed a “new era” of relations between the countries.
“We are drawing a future roadmap that will bring to life bilateral relations based on brotherly and sisterly closeness in order to overcome hardships together and provide assistance to each other, ” Xi said.
Suu Kyi called China “a great country playing an important role in the international affairs and the world economy” but urged for economic projects that avoid environmental degradation and benefit locals.
Xi also met leaders from political parties in ethnic areas riven with civil conflict where Chinese infrastructure projects are underway. —Reuters