Monday, July 24, 2017

State Counsellor invites UN Secretary-General to attend 21CPC

State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has invited United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to attend the second round of 21st-Century Panglong Conference (21CPC), scheduled to start on May 24.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attends a welcome banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on May 14. Photo - EPAState Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attends a welcome banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on May 14. Photo - EPA

While attending the meeting of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation hosted by China, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi discussed with the UN Secretary-General issues related to Myanmar’s internal national reconciliation and peace process, including the government’s preparatory efforts for holding the second round of 21CPC.

Twenty-nine heads of states and representatives from 130 countries attended the forum that started on Sunday, May 14.

The forum marks the grand opening of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that comprises “the Silk Road Economic Belt” and “the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road”.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi participated in several sessions on “Policy Synergy for Closer Partnership”, “Closer People-to-People Bond” and “Connective Cooperation for Interconnected Development”, according to a Myanmar foreign ministry press release.

The State Counsellor and Foreign Minister, who also holds the President’s Office Minister portfolio, had sideline meetings with heads of state from Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Poland and Mongolia, the statement added.

The BRI is a development strategy envisioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The focus is promotion of connectivity and cooperation among the countries involved in the project.

After founding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with a capital investment of US$100 billion, China allocated $40 billion to the Silk Road Fund.

Chinese financial institutions – such as the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China – will lend money to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative for the development of infrastructure.

During the forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for cooperation among BRI members and for the rejection of protectionism.

He has reportedly also said that China will seek a common prosperity with its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, and not political dominance.

The international meeting ended yesterday and the next BRI forum will be held in 2019.

Heads of states and representatives of organisations from 68 countries have signed the Belt and Road Cooperation Agreement with China yesterday.

On cooperation with China, Myanmar is part of the BCIM forum that intends to foster greater integration in trade and investment among four nations – Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar – which was agreed to in 2013.

The corridor is an expressway that would link China’s Kunming to Kolkata of India via Mandalay of Myanmar, Daka and Chittagong of Bangladesh.

An editorial run by The Irrawaddy on May 12 told the nation’s leaders to be well aware of how to make a good deal with China, which has major business and strategic interests in Myanmar.

“Kyaukphyu is key to the BRI as it sits on the Bay of Bengal and will provide strategic geo-economic access to the Indian Ocean, where China wants to develop maritime infrastructure,” said the editorial.

“Burma won’t reject the BRI; the interesting element is how the country’s leadership deals with the initiative. It is time to negotiate from a position of strength,” said the editorial.