By Zhang Hong,
On Jan.17, 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off his state visit to Myanmar, his first overseas destination in 2020.
The Chinese President will hold discussions with leaders of Myanmar to renew the thousand-year-old “Paukphaw” (fraternal) friendship between the two countries, and is also expected to create a new chapter of bilateral cooperation, lift political ties, deepen cooperation on interconnectivity, advance the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), and bring China-Myanmar relations onto a new height.
China and Myanmar are close neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. The two peoples have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. The Mekong River, known as Lancang River in China, extends several thousand kilometers from China’s Qinghai province down south, and is shared by both peoples of China and Myanmar.
As the third decade of the 21st century has just begun, people from China and Myanmar are seeing closer bonds as they are not only sharing the same river, but also co-building the same “Road”. Today, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is further intensifying the exchanges between the two countries.
In Xi’s signed article titled “Writing a New Chapter in Our Millennia-Old Pauk-Phaw Friendship” published in Myanmese newspapers, he mentioned the BRI twice, saying that “we have further expanded our practical cooperation” and that Myanmar is “an important partner country of the BRI”.
He said the two countries need to bring new impetus to their mutually beneficial cooperation by deepening trade and economic exchanges, and stressed that “our two sides need to deepen results-oriented Belt and Road cooperation”.
By deepen bilateral cooperation on pushing forward with the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road, China and Myanmar will better serve the wellbeing of the two countries and their peoples.
Joint efforts of China and Myanmar to advance the construction of the Belt and Road have been carried out under the guidance of leaders of both countries.
Since Xi proposed the BRI in 2013, government of Myanmar responded to and participated in the initiative actively. As one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Myanmar has played an active role in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.
In 2018, the government of Myanmar established a specialized steering committee for the implementation of tasks relating to the BRI, and appointed Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi as the chair of the committee. Last year, Myanmar set up another working committee for the joint construction of the Belt and Road.
Joint efforts of China and Myanmar to advance the construction of the Belt and Road have led to mutually beneficial pragmatic cooperation. China has long remained the largest trading partner and the most importance source of foreign investment of Myanmar. The two countries have witnessed a total of $16.8 billion in value of bilateral trade in the first 11 months of 2019.
China and Myanmar have deepened alignment of development strategies, signed cooperation documents on the construction of the CMEC and established a joint CMEC committee. Bilateral cooperation between the two countries on major projects including the CMEC have significantly improved the livelihood of local people in Myanmar.
Joint efforts of China and Myanmar to advance the construction of the Belt and Road enjoy extensive support from both peoples, whose fraternal sentiments and close ties date back to ancient times.
During Xi’s visit to Myanmar, he and major leaders of the Myanmar government are scheduled to attend events including a series of celebration activities for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and Myanmar, as well as the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar Culture and Tourism Year program.
Xi’s attendance at these activities is bound to usher in a new chapter of the thousand-year-old “Paukphaw” friendship between the two countries, consolidate the public opinion foundation of the China-Myanmar friendly ties, and help the “Paukphaw” friendship win greater favor with both peoples.
Joint efforts of China and Myanmar to advance the construction of the Belt and Road signal huge potential for development. The construction of the Belt and Road has entered its 2.0-version era, realizing its transition from making high-level plans to highlighting intensive and meticulous implementation.
Xi’s visit to Myanmar will certainly boost bilateral cooperation under the framework of the BRI, and move the CMEC from a conceptual stage to concrete planning and implementation.
“In China and Myanmar, people have similar sayings to the effect that more exchanges will bring families and friends closer together,” said Xi in his signed article.
At present, there are more than 150 direct flights between China and Myanmar on a weekly basis, 7 times more than those three years ago.
As the two countries sharing the same river are now making greater efforts to jointly build the same “Road”, China and Myanmar are building an even closer China-Myanmar community with a shared future, and have set a role model for the world to understand, join and practice the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.