Tuesday, July 25, 2017

China promises to shore up border as foreign minister’s trip ends

Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has ended her five-day trip to China, returning to Yangon yesterday.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (left) speaks during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) in Beijing on August 19. Photo: AFPDaw Aung San Suu Kyi (left) speaks during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) in Beijing on August 19. Photo: AFP

The visit, which came after an invitation from China’s Premier Li Keqiang, was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first major overseas trip since the National League for Democracy government took office in March.

China and Myanmar reached an agreement to work toward close coordination on worldwide issues concerning climate change, natural disasters and communicable diseases, according to a statement from the President’s Office.

“The two sides agreed to promote rule-of-law in the border areas, and to enhance trade, economic cooperation and various forms of friendly exchanges that would contribute to the well-being of the public,” the statement said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to play a constructive role in Myanmar’s peace process, according to an official Chinese statement obtained by AFP.

The 21st-century Panglong Conference, slated to start next week, aims to quell the strife between numerous ethnic groups across Myanmar. China’s promise to promote the peace process and promote rule of law in the borderlands are related, political analyst U Than Soe Naing told The Myanmar Times.

Some of the ethnic groups are located along Myanmar’s porous border with China, where drugs and guns are often bought and sold. Some armed ethnic groups along the border have ethnic or cultural ties to the people in Yunnan province on the Chinese side of the border.

“As a good neighbour, China will do everything possible to promote our peace process,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted by AFP as telling reporters in Beijing.

She also confirmed that the Myanmar government would set up a committee to review the controversial US$3.6 billion Beijing-backed Myitsone dam project, frozen in 2011 after protests, but did not say whether or not it would continue. 

– With AFP