By H.E. Mr. Chen Hai, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations. On June 8, 1950, China and Myanmar officially established diplomatic relations. Over the past seven decades, our relationship has been marked by mutual trust, mutal respect and mutual support, setting a good example for countries, big or small, to treat each other as equals and pursue mutual benefit and common development.
Soon after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Myanmar was the first of countries with a different social system to recognize New China.
China and Myanmar jointly championed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, setting important guidelines for country-to-country relations. Myanmar was also the first neighbor to sign boundary treaty with New China. The two sides have not only properly resolved border issues but also actively responded to domestic and international challenges. By coordinating closely and jointly pushing forward the reform, the two countries have been working to promote both domestic development and bilateral relations.
Entering the 21th Century, the two countries have established the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership and promoted multifaceted cooperation that benefits both countries and our peoples.
According to a saying in Myanmar, “Insects can’t destroy Ivory.” Although China – Myanmar relationship have stood the test of changing international circumstances for 70 years while it remains as strong as ivory.
This is mainly attributed to the following experience:
1. Both countries have actively followed strategic leadership. The heads of both countries have steered the bilateral relations from a strategic height and a long-term perspective, thus ensuring that China-Myanmar relations maintain a good momentum of sound and stable development.
2. Both countries have consistently practiced the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, with both sides supporting each other on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns, thereby strengthening the foundation of mutual trust.
3. Both countries have inherited and carried forward Pauk-Phaw friendship. China and Myanmar are close neighbors enjoying a deep bond of cultural and people-to-people affinity. The people of the two countries have had friendly exchanges since ancient times, forming a profound and unique Pauk-Phaw friendship. This is a valuable asset that the two countries share in common and has become the basic foundation of China-Myanmar friendship.
4. Both countries have served steadfastly for the fundamental interests of two peoples. Both sides place the people’s interests as the first priority with practical cooperation and development delivering more benefits to the two peoples, which helps China-Myanmar friendship become stronger.
President Xi Jinping’s visit to Myanmar at the invitation of Myanmar President U Win Myint at the begining of 2020, was a historic success. The leaders of the two countries agreed to build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future.
This important political consensus speaks volumes about the special bond between China and Myanmar, as close as between lips and teeth. It gives vivid expression to the Pauk-Phaw friendship between our peoples who have supported each other through thick and thin, and draws up a new and overarching blueprint for future growth of bilateral ties, ushering China-Myanmar relation into a new era.
Recently, President Xi Jinping spoke by phone with President U Win Myint. The two leaders agreed that China and Myanmar should work closely to implement the outcomes of President Xi’s visit and build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future.
The 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations serves as a good opportunity to implement the important consensus of the leaders of both countries, fully leverage on geographic proximity and economic complementarity to share opportunities, meet challenges head on, pursue common development and strive to build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future.
——-Enhance mutual respect and trust to consolidate friendship from generation to generation. China and Myanmar have a long history of friendly exchanges. The elder statesmen of our two countries jointly established the Pauk-Phaw friendship and wrote many touching stories of bilateral exchanges.
Today, the international environment is changing fast while China-Myanmar relations remain steadfast.
Adhering to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, we wish to maintain, consolidate and develop political mutual trust with Myanmar, pass on the precious traditional friendship between the two countries so as to embed the sense of a China-Myanmar community with a shared future in people’s mind and imbue our friendship with more vitality and dynamism in the long river of history.
——-Give priority to development and achieve common prosperity. Both China and Myanmar are developing countries and are at the crucial stages of development. Our two sides need to seek complementarity between economic development strategies of the two countries in our joint efforts to carry out the building of the Belt and Road Initiative, and move the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor from a conceptual stage to substantial planning and implementation.
Efforts need to be made to promote the three pillars of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor – the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, Border Economic Cooperation Zones, and New Yangon City, deepening our practical cooperation in connectivity, electricity and energy, transportation, agriculture, finance and livelihoods, so as to expand the shared interests of China and Myanmar and bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples.
——Stay forward-looking and promote closer people-to-people ties. Recently, China and Myanmar have been working together to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Myanmar’s government, military and social organizations have actively contributed to China’s fight against the pandemic. China has also donated medical supplies to Myanmar and sent teams of medical experts to help improve Myanmar’s capacity to combat the pandemic.
These efforts are vivid examples of building a China-Myanmar community with a shared future. We are willing to strengthen our cooperation with Myanmar on fighting against the virus and head towards final success together.
The two sides will also jointly hold a series of activities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism, with the aim to expand people-to-people and culture exchanges, and deepen Pauk-Phaw friendship.
——Uphold fairness and justice, and maintain peace and stability. We are witnessing major changes unfolding in our world, something unseen in a century. The global pandemic has made it clearer than ever that all countries are in the same boat and rise and fall together, and human beings are in a community with a shared future. Because of the pandemic, the rise of protectionism, unilateralism, and populism have cast a negative impact on economic globalization.
We wish to further strengthen strategic coordination with Myanmar and other friendly countries to expand coordination and cooperation on joint responding to the challenges brought by the pandemic and anti-globalization, so as to build a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation and a community with a shared future for mankind.
Both China and Myanmar have a saying: “Unity is strength”. Unity is the most powerful weapon in the fight against the pandemic faced by the international community and the most effective way to build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future. We are ready to work with Myanmar, taking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as an opportunity, to carry forward our traditions and forge ahead hand in hand, thus creating an even better future for China-Myanmar relations.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar.)