By Mr Chen Hai, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar
At the beginning of 2021, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Mr Wang Yi paid an official visit to Myanmar at invitation. With China-Myanmar relations ushering in a new era, the global fight against COVID-19 entering a new phase and the international and regional situation evolving in new trends, this visit is of great significance.
First, the visit marks a good start of the China-Myanmar relations in the new year. By choosing Myanmar as first stop in his first trip to neighbouring countries this year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi became the first foreign minister to visit Myanmar after the country’s general election in last November, which demonstrated the great importance China attaches to its relations with Myanmar. The visit will give substantial impetus to the development of bilateral relations in the new year.
Second, the visit is important for both countries embarking on a new journey. 2021 is the inaugural year of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. Myanmar is about to form a new government for the next five years. Both countries have embarked on a new journey for national development. During the visit, both sides reached consensus on synergizing each other’s development strategies and advancing all-round cooperation, which provided an important opportunity for realizing common development.
Third, the visit injects new vitality for development. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened lives and public health across the world, and brought challenges to economic and social development. It is the common aspiration of people in China and Myanmar to prevail over the pandemic as soon as possible and recover the economy and society. The visit has effectively strengthened anti-pandemic cooperation, and deepened the substantive cooperation between the two countries, thus injecting new impetus into the bilateral relations, especially into Myanmar’s development.
During the visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Myanmar leaders. Both sides reached 12 political consensus on implementing the fruits of President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to Myanmar and the future development of China-Myanmar relations. Both sides also signed or announced 8 specific achievements covering different fields, which will effectively foster China-Myanmar friendship and promote the well-being of the two peoples.
The building of a community with a shared future is going deeper. In January 2020, during his historic state visit to Myanmar, President Xi Jinping and the leader of Myanmar announced to jointly build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future. Both sides have reached consensus in principle on the text of the Action Plan for jointly build such a community after extensive consultation, and will sign it as soon as possible. The building of a China-Myanmar community with a shared future has taken a firm step forward.
Anti-pandemic cooperation has been vigorously carried out. During the visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that the Chinese government has decided to donate 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Myanmar in the first batch, and will give guidance to Chinese companies to conduct vaccine procurement cooperation with Myanmar at a public product price. This is the most sincere and true New Year gift from the Chinese people to our Myanmar friends. China also provided Myanmar with 3 million yuan worth of medical supplies, a part of which worth of 250,000 yuan have arrived with the delegation and been handed over to the Myanmar side.According to incomplete statistics, since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Chinese government and different sectors have donated more than 7 million masks, 400,000 sets of PPEs, 300,000 sets of testing kits, 35 ventilators, and 377 million kyats in cash to Myanmar. Three batches of Chinese medical experts were dispatched to Myanmar to help fighting the pandemic. All these have given vivid expression to the spirit of China-Myanmar community with a shared future. The two sides agreed to deepen the joint prevention and control efforts, and improve the “fast tracks” for necessary flow of people and the “green lanes” for goods transportation. One day before the visit, the construction of the China-Aided Myanmar National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Medical Staff Training Centre had officially kicked off. In order to facilitate customs clearance for Myanmar agricultural products and other exports into China, relevant departments of Yunnan Province have overcome difficulties and implemented 24-hour customs clearance measures. The Pauk-Phaw friendship between China and Myanmar has been further deepened in the trying times of the pandemic.
Practical cooperation has made substantial progress. During this visit, both sides agreed to effectively implement the agreement on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) with a concerted effort, and accelerate the advancement of three-end supporting projects like the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, the New Yangon City and the China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone. Besides, both sides signed the Five Year Plan for Economic and Trade Cooperation, the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding on Conducting a Feasibility Study of Mandalay-Kyaukpyu Section of the China-Myanmar Railway. With China-Myanmar cooperation, China hopes to enhance connectivity between the two countries, expand the trade volume, and help Myanmar accelerate its industrialization and increase employment, thus supporting the Myanmar’s new government in revitalizing its economy and improving people’s well-being with visible and tangible results. The Chinese side has also implemented a number of aid projects during the visit, including the construction of Kunlong Bridge offering annual assistance to the peace process of Myanmar and the handover of documents for China-aided resettlement project for displaced persons in Kachin State. On the eve of the visit, railway carriages procured with Chinese interest-free loan were successfully handed over to the Myanmar side. Many projects such as the China-aided Myanmar National Indoor Sports Stadium and Yangon’s National Theatre have proceeded as scheduled despite of the pandemic. China will continue to help Myanmar boost its development for the early and more benefit of its people. Mutual support and shared responsibility on multilateral occasions is once again emphasized. China and Myanmar have consistently supported each other on multilateral occasions such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and East Asia Cooperation. The Myanmar Government and military are committed to safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity, advancing national reconciliation and peace process, and promoting national development. During the visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that China will firmly pursue the friendly policy towards Myanmar, support the new Myanmar government in its administration, support Myanmar in continuously promoting national reconciliation and peaceful progress with the “Panglong Spirit”, and support Myanmar in properly addressing the Rakhine State issue. China will continue upholding fairness and justice for Myanmar and safeguard its legitimate rights and interests in international arena. The Myanmar side reiterated that it firmly adheres to the one-China principle and will continue to support China’s position on issues related to Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang. As the common proponents and practitioners of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, China and Myanmar will continue to take a clear-cut position against unilateralism and protectionism. Both sides will work together to elevate the China-ASEAN relations, strive to put into force the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership at the earliest possible date, further deepen the Lancang-Mekong cooperation and contribute to regional and world peace, stability and prosperity.
Last year, both sides by overcoming the impact of COVID-19 conducted a series of cultural exchanges. China presented the digitally restored old Myanmar film “Nga Ba” to Myanmar as a gift to the centenary of Myanmar motion picture industry. A large number of Chinese films and TV shows such as Ode to Joy and Heroes in Harm’s way were enjoyed by thousands of households in Myanmar. During the visit, both sides agreed to extend the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic ties and the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism to 2021. This will promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges and enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, which will lay a solid foundation for the development of China-Myanmar relations.
2021 marks the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and China embarks on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. The new government of Myanmar will be established soon and will continue to strive for new accomplishments on national reconciliation and development. This year is also the first anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to Myanmar. During the visit by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, both sides once again clearly expressed common position on strengthening friendly cooperation and promoting national development. We are willing to join hands with Myanmar to enhance political mutual trust, deepen anti-pandemic and development cooperation, and strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs. We believe that the traditional Pauk-Phaw friendship nourished by the same river will rise to a higher level in the building of the China-Myanmar community of shared future, and the road of China-Myanmar friendship and cooperation will grow even wider!