Ties with Myanmar to stay on track: Li

Updated: 2013-10-10 01:25
By Li Xiaokun in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei and Zhou Wa in Beijing (China Daily)

China and Myanmar have pledged to improve their future cooperation, as Premier Li Keqiang met Myanmar President U Thein Sein on the sidelines of the 16th China-ASEAN Summit in Brunei on Wednesday.

Li said Beijing hopes to set the right direction for future ties with the Southeast Asian country in its new circumstances, given that the country is experiencing reforms of its domestic and foreign policies.

"China would like to enhance cooperation in various fields with Myanmar and add new fuel to the good-neighborly cooperation between the two countries," Li said, adding that China supports the country's political reform.

Analysts said Li's remarks shows the trend of a stable Beijing-Yangon relationship, adding that Myanmar's reforms do not target China.

"Li's words send a positive signal of the future Beijing-Yangon ties. Myanmar's political reforms will not affect that country's ties with China," said Lu Guangsheng, a professor on Southeast Asian studies at Yunnan University.

No matter what direction Myanmar's political reform takes in the future, its current and future leaders are expected to implement a China-friendly foreign policy, considering the countries' deep cooperation based on geopolitics and geo-economics, said Lu's colleague Li Chenyang, an expert on Myanmar studies.

Rapid changes in domestic politics and foreign policies took place after Myanmar held its first election since 1990 in 2010.

China and Myanmar have enjoyed good ties since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1950.

But as reform in Myanmar continues, several Chinese projects in the Southeast Asian nation have faced challenges.

In 2011, Myanmar suspended cooperation with China on the Myitsone hydropower project on the Irawaddy River, which led to huge losses for a Chinese company.

"After calm analysis, China now holds that these cases do not show confrontation by Myanmar toward China. The bilateral cooperation will improve in the future," Lu said.

Since taking office, U Thein Sein has significantly improved the country's ties with the United States and other Western countries. The West has largely alleviated two-decade-long sanctions it imposed on Myanmar over its previous military rule.

In 2012, Myanmar enacted a Foreign Investment Law, and it is developing "special economic zone" legislation.

Premier Li said China hopes to work together with Yangon to maintain the stability of the China-Myanmar border.

Northern Myanmar's Kachin State experienced armed clashes at the end of December 2012. The fighting resulted in four bombs landing on the Chinese side, prompting China to lodge serious complaints with Myanmar.

China later required the Myanmar government to take effective measures to stop such incidents from happening again.

While continuing its policy of non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs, China can assist Myanmar by providing channels for the two sides of its conflict to return to the negotiating table, and to guarantee trade across the border and the normal lives of Chinese citizens living near the region.

Li also spoke of bilateral ties and cooperation with the United States and other Asian-Pacific countries including Malaysia and Australia.



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