By Xi Jinping (President of the People’s Republic of China)
As we mark the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, it gives me great pleasure to pay a state visit to Myanmar at the invitation of President U Win Myint. I visited this beautiful land in 2009, and was deeply impressed by its serene landscape, diverse cultures and hardworking people. With the upcoming visit, I look forward to renewing China’s “pauk-phaw” ties with Myanmar and discussing our future cooperation.
China and Myanmar are close neighbors connected by shared mountains and rivers. Our people have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. In Myanmar language, pauk-phaw means siblings from the same mother. It is an apt description of the fraternal sentiments between our two peoples, whose close ties date back to ancient times. As early as the 4th century BC, our ancestors began to trade with each other through the “Gold and Silver Road” linking China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces with Myanmar and India. In the heyday of China’s Tang Dynasty in the early 9th century, the Prince of Pyu led a troupe of dancers and musicians on a visit to Chang’an (the capital of Tang Dynasty known today as Xi’an). Their enchanting performance was celebrated by Bai Juyi, the foremost Chinese poet of his time, in an ode to music from the kingdom of Pyu. 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. The elder statesmen of our two countries have since made enormous efforts to develop China-Myanmar relations. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who visited Myanmar nine times, is still fondly remembered for celebrating Thingyan Festival together with the people of Myanmar while dressed in traditional local attire.
Throughout the 70 years of our diplomatic ties, China and Myanmar have together championed and put into practice the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Our relationship has been marked by mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual support. It has become a prime example of equality, win-win cooperation and common development between countries of different sizes. Our close ties have delivered real benefits to people in both countries.
— We have further cemented political mutual trust. In the 1960s, Myanmar became the first among China’s neighbors to settle the boundary issue with China in the spirit of equal consultation, mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. Today, our two countries enjoy close high-level exchanges, and our comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is growing steadily. China firmly supports Myanmar in pursuing a development path suited to its national conditions. China supports the efforts of the Myanmar government to promote peace and reconciliation, and supports Myanmar in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests and national dignity in the international arena. Myanmar, for its part, has given China staunch support on issues involving China’s core interests and major concerns.
— We have further expanded our practical cooperation. The economies of China and Myanmar are highly complementary, promising great room for cooperation. China has long been Myanmar’s largest trading partner and most important source of investment. Our bilateral trade reached US$16.8 billion in the first 11 months of 2019. More and more agricultural and livestock products from Myanmar are making their way to Chinese kitchens. Fruitful cooperation is taking place in infrastructure construction and many other fields. With Myanmar as an important partner country of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), our two sides have capitalized on the convergence of our development strategies. We have signed cooperation documents on building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) and established a joint CMEC committee to oversee steady progress.
— We have further strengthened people-to-people bonds. Our vibrant cultural, religious and personnel exchanges provide solid support for deepening our pauk-phaw friendship. China’s national treasure, the Buddha tooth relic, was displayed four times in Myanmar for public obeisance. With donations from Myanmar, a Myanmese-style shrine has been built at the White Horse Temple in Luoyang, Henan province of China. With the help of Chinese doctors and nurses, many cataract patients in Myanmar have had their sight restored and children with congenital heart disease have received proper medical care. Popular Chinese films and TV programs have found a wide audience in Myanmar.
This year, China will achieve its First Centenary Goal of ushering in a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Myanmar is making continuous progress in economic and social development. As we mark the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, it is important that we carry forward our traditional friendship and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, so that we will bring China-Myanmar relations into a new era.
— We need to draw a new blueprint for bilateral ties by strengthening strategic communication. Our two sides may continue to harness the vital role of high-level exchanges in guiding our relations, step up communication and coordination at all levels and share development experience. It is important that we continue to show strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. By deepening our comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with a strategic and long-term perspective, we will make the idea of building a community with a shared future take root in the hearts and minds of our people. China supports Myanmar in advancing the peace and reconciliation process through political dialogue. The two sides may work together to ensure peace and stability along our border.
— We need to bring new impetus to our mutually beneficial cooperation by deepening trade and economic exchanges. Our two sides need to deepen results-oriented Belt and Road cooperation and move from a conceptual stage to concrete planning and implementation in building the CMEC. Efforts need to be made to promote the three pillars of the CMEC, namely the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone, the China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone and the New Yangon City. We also need to deepen practical and mutually beneficial cooperation in such areas as connectivity, electricity, energy, transportation, agriculture, finance and livelihood to deliver more benefits to both peoples.
— We need to add new substance to our pauk-phaw friendship by scaling up exchanges and mutual learning. Our two sides have designated 2020 as the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism. Myanmar’s charming natural scenery and fascinating cultural heritage will surely attract more and more Chinese tourists. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, the two sides will host a string of events to expand exchanges and cooperation on education, religion, media, movies and TV programs. Such joint events will help strengthen public support for China-Myanmar friendship, thus cementing and re-energizing our pauk-phaw friendship.
— We need to make new progress in regional peace and stability by enhancing coordination and cooperation. Confronted by rising unilateralism and protectionism, our two countries need to strengthen coordination and collaboration in the multilateral fora, such as in the United Nations and within the framework of East Asia cooperation and Lancang-Mekong cooperation. In this new era, we need to champion the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, encourage efforts to foster a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and strive to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
In China and Myanmar, people have similar sayings to the effect that more exchanges will bring families and friends closer together. In this 70th anniversary year, China-Myanmar relations stand at a new starting point. Let us work hand in hand to build an even closer China-Myanmar community with a shared future and write a new chapter for our millennia-old pauk-phaw friendship.