New Era, New Start, Map out a New Blueprint for China-Myanmar Economic and Trade Cooperation

China and Myanmar are close neighbors connected by shared mountains and rivers. Our people have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. The Pauk-Phaw friendship between our two peoples can be dated back to ancient times.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Myanmar, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, made a historic visit to Myanmar from January 17 to 18, 2020. This visit has achieved historic results and opened a new era for China-Myanmar economic and trade cooperation.

We are witnessing major changes unfolding in our world, something unseen in a century. The international community has become a place where all countries are getting increasingly interdependent, and a community of intertwined interests and shared future. Practical cooperation between China and Myanmar has grown stronger and full of vitality.

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.

China has long been Myanmar’s largest trading partner and most important source of investment. According to data from the Ministry of Commerce of China, bilateral trade between China and Myanmar hit US$ 18.7 billion in 2019, up by 22.8 percent year-on-year. More and more agricultural and livestock products from Myanmar are making their way to Chinese dining tables.

In the first quarter of 2020, ASEAN became China’s largest trading partner. Myanmar, one of the most promising member countries of ASEAN, is well placed to benefit from the full range of global trade benefits and extensive platforms such as China International Trade Fair, China-ASEAN Expo and China Export and Import Expo. During the Fiscal Year 2018-19, Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration approved investments for 140 Chinese projects worth US$635 million, bringing about the benefits of bilateral cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development.

Investment from China has created as estimated 400,000 job opportunities for Myanmar and generates US$3 billion of annual foreign exchange earnings.

China has also long insists on the combination of “giving people fish” and “teaching them to fish”, providing human resource training and a great deal of technical support to thousands of people in Myanmar every year, thereby strengthening Myanmar’s industrial and agricultural production capacity, the foundations for economic and social development, improving the condition of basic education and healthcare, raising the standard of people’s living, contributing to Myanmar’s economic and social development.

On this basis, our two sides will continue to deepen results-oriented Belt and Road cooperation and move from a conceptual stage to concrete planning and implementation in building the CMEC.

We need to bring new impetus to our mutually beneficial cooperation by deepening trade and economic exchanges. 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. This cooperation will also encompass work on roads, rail, and power infrastructure.

In other areas, both countries will continue to emphasis collaboration through joint committees such as the China Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation Committee, and China – Myanmar Agriculture Cooperation Committee to boost improvements in areas such as business, trade, agriculture, forestry, productivity, investment, and finance for the benefit of the two peoples.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global challenge. During this time, the government of Myanmar, the Tatmadaw and all walks of life in Myanmar reach out to help China, which shows goodwill and support to Chinese government and people through concrete actions.

Chinese government, military and companies, in turn, have sent medical expert teams to Myanmar and offer a large number of supplies in support of the fight against the pandemic in Myanmar. New progress has been made in China-Myanmar cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, which fully demonstrates that China and Myanmar are Pauk-Phaw and a community with a shared future featuring mutual assistance.

As history moves forward, advancing China – Myanmar relations, based on long tradition of cooperation, opens up a new horizon for both countries.

Standing at a new starting point of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Myanmar and China, 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, and draw a new blueprint for bilateral ties.

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