By Chen Hai, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar
The New Achievements of China’s Development
When it comes to the new achievements of China’s development, I want to share a story that happened in China border area.
Pan Gui, a 56-year-old villager from the Yao ethnic group in Jinping County, Yunnan Province, had been struggling with poverty for more than 30 years with his wife who worked in a small town on the China-Myanmar border. By this past May, the roughly 120,000 people in 27,000 households in Jinping County had all been lifted out of poverty, which brought tremendous changes to the lives of Pan Gui and his wife. They used to endure living under a leaky roof made of thin bamboo strips. To procure drinking water, they had to walk more than one hour into the mountains and bring down a heavy load. Today, support from the Chinese government has enabled Pan Gui and his family to move into a modern brick house and earn an annual income of nearly 50,000 yuan (US$7,695) by cultivating bananas and rubber and breeding pigs and chicken. Jinping County was paired with my organization, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for targeted poverty alleviation. So I am especially proud of everything the county has achieved.
The changes in Jinping County are epitomes of the cause of poverty reduction in Yunnan Province and China at large. From 2015 to 2019, a total of 1.65 million people were lifted out of poverty in Yunnan. This year, the entire province will be free from poverty for the first time in history, after record-setting poverty alleviation. Across China, 55.75 million impoverished rural people were lifted out of poverty from 2016 to 2020. China will achieve the poverty reduction goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule and win its battle against poverty.
While grasping for victory in this battle, China never forgot its Pauk-Phaw brother Myanmar. Yunnan Province has been taking the lead in implementing a China-aided pilot project for poverty reduction in Aye Chan Thar Village and Min Pyin Village in Nay Pyi Taw. Last October, I made a visit to Aye Chan Thar Village. A year later, the village looks completely different. I was pleased to receive pictures from colleagues showing that the mud road in the village had been paved with cement. The villagers have access to clean drinking water, a community service center, a clinic, more promising income streams, and better healthcare. I was informed that Aung Soe Win, a local villager who was formerly a migrant worker, successfully rented a plot to cultivate fresh vegetables as part of a courtyard economy project. In Min Pyin Village, five female villagers received technical training and secured employment at a garment factory, enabling them to earn a salary for the first time in their lives. China’s poverty reduction experience such as people-centered philosophy, targeted measures, combination of development-oriented strategies with reinforced social security is producing benefits for the people of Myanmar. Building prosperous communities together is a prerequisite for a China-Myanmar community of shared future for the two countries.
2020 is the year China vowed to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Facing the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying complex and severe domestic and international environment, the entire country coordinated a fight against the virus in concert with efforts to maintain economic and social development, which effectively ensured an orderly economic recovery. Economic growth in the first three quarters flipped from negative to positive. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to surpass 100 trillion yuan (US$15 trillion) this year.
Many people would like to learn the formula for China’s success. If you ask me, it’s the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC has persisted with a people-centered philosophy. Creating better lives for the people has always been the aspiration and mission of the Party since the beginning. When the People’s Republic was founded in 1949, the country was in an abyss of suffering and backwardness. Over the 70 years since, the CPC has devoted strenuous efforts to lead the Chinese people to a moderately prosperous society. Shenzhen, previously a small fishing village on the east coast of Guangdong Province, has transformed into a modern international metropolis in only 40 years. A few days ago, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the development and opening-up of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, which has developed into a modern new town and world-class financial center. Both are typical examples of China’s rapid development, from which the Chinese people have undoubtedly benefited the most. In the process, the CPC has enhanced its capacity to improve and reform while committed to zero tolerance for corruption. It has strengthened its ability to purify and reform itself and made efforts to foster closer ties with the people, which is unleashing enormous energy invigorating the whole nation. In the fight against the pandemic, China has always kept the people’s interests first and held firm the belief that nothing is more precious than human life. Major strategic results were achieved in this fight. During the recent eight-day National Day holiday, 637 million Chinese passengers traveled around the country at ea se, which reflects China’s success in this battle. Chinese people’s trust and support for Party leadership has thus further increased. I believe the CPC will write new chapters and win new victories along the journey to national rejuvenation with the support of the Chinese people.
New Patterns of China’s Development
A popular saying in Myanmar goes: “Mango among fruits, pork among meats, tea among leaves.” Mango is the most popular fruit in Myanmar. The famous brand Sein Ta Lone is well-known to many Chinese fans because of its unique fragrance and taste. Chinese consumers affectionately dub it “the mango king.” From April to June each year, truckloads of Sein Ta Lone mangos reach ordinary Chinese consumers through Wanding Port in Dehong Prefecture of Yunnan Province. This year, despite the pandemic, a huge volume of Sein Ta Lone mangoes were exported to China. The mango trade represents a microcosm of agricultural products trade between China and Myanmar. Ever-growing Chinese domestic demand offers attractive prospects for Myanmar agricultural products.
The story of mango trade between China and Myanmar also provides a unique perspective to understand China’s new development pattern. The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee that convened at the end of October agreed on a comprehensive plan for the development in the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025) that provided clear vision for China’s long-range development through the year 2035—to lift China’s per capita GDP to be on par with moderately developed countries through an expanding middle-income population and more substantial progress in prosperity for all. To achieve this goal, China will build a new development pattern with the domestic market as the mainstay and domestic and international markets reinforcing each other. Making domestic market as the mainstay does not mean pursuing development behind closed doors. Instead, we have to make better use of both the domestic and international markets and resources to better connect markets. China is expected to import more than US$22 trillion over the next 10 years. China’s door will only open wider, which will offer even more opportunities for China-Myanmar cooperation.
China and Myanmar have strong complementary traits in economics that create tremendous potential for cooperation. Agriculture is the pillar industry of Myanmar. China has a population of 1.4 billion people with more than 400 million in the middle-income group, which provides a huge consumer market for agricultural product exports from Myanmar such as rice, soybean, fruit, and coffee. China’s garment and other labor-intensive companies have been transferring production capacity to Myanmar, which aligns with Myanmar’s development needs. The Myanmar government is vigorously developing special economic zones, industrial parks, and industrial new cities as well as the digital economy. China is actively participating in relevant cooperation, which will help Myanmar create jobs, improve living standards, and develop the economy. Under the guidance of the new development pattern, China will further open its market to Myanmar, share its reform and development dividends with Myanmar, and provide new momentum for Myanmar’s exports to China. China-Myanmar cooperation in trade, production capacity, infrastructure, and other areas will be further upgraded as an interdependent two-way market gradually forms, which will create tangible benefits to the people of both countries.
New Era of China-Myanmar Relations
China and Myanmar are connected by mountains and rivers. China is the largest trading partner of Myanmar. We have great potential and bright prospects for bilateral cooperation. At the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping made a historic visit to Myanmar, which has achieved historic outcomes. The leaders of the two countries reached consensus on building the Belt and Road, the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, and the China-Myanmar community of shared future. Since then, China and Myanmar have pulled together and supported each other through the COVID-19 pandemic, which vividly reflects the meaning of a community of shared future. The major projects of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor are now well underway. China-Myanmar cooperation in areas of power supply, transportation infrastructure connectivity, agriculture, and manufacturing is making steady progress, creating tangible benefits for the peoples of both countries.
We were pleased to witness Myanmar’s successful general election not long ago and we congratulate Myanmar for it. Myanmar is about to enter a new period of development with new opportunities to maintain peace and stability and promote economic growth. China will implement the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development starting next year, and Myanmar is about to form a new government for the next five years of work. China and Myanmar will continue to work together on fighting the pandemic, deepening cooperation, promoting national development, and creating benefits for the people.
Next, China and Myanmar will continue to strengthen anti-pandemic cooperation, especially joint prevention and control in the border areas, in the spirit of mutual assistance. The two sides will also strengthen cooperation in preventative supplies and vaccines to secure an early victory in the fight against the pandemic. At the same time, we are ready to implement pandemic prevention and control measures in tandem with pragmatic cooperation, carry out the agreements reached during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Myanmar, strengthen synergy between China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and Myanmar’s development strategy, deepen pragmatic cooperation in all areas, promote common development, and create more benefits for peoples of both countries. China is ready to work with Myanmar to support each other on issues involving our core interests and major concerns. Based on Myanmar’s interests, we will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the peace and national reconciliation of Myanmar.
This year, China helped Myanmar with the digital restoration of NgaBa, an old Myanmar film, which will have a revival run in Myanmar as an important gift celebrating the 100th anniversary of Myanmar’s film industry. This is an example of China-Myanmar cultural exchange and cooperation. We stand ready to continue to strengthen exchange and cooperation with Myanmar in fields of education, culture, tourism, religion, and media to boost mutual understanding and amity between the peoples.
A Chinese saying goes, “A good partner on a journey is as important as a good neighbour at home.” We are willing to work with Myanmar to seize development opportunities, overcome difficulties and challenges, promote greater development of bilateral relations in the new era, and work hand in hand for a better future.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar)