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Exclusive | Ko Ko Hlaing
'Special' links with Beijing will remain strong amid reforms
Myanmar cherishes the "special" links it has had with China since ancient times and will further strengthen and deepen its "time-honored and time-tested" friendship during the country's current reforms, the top political adviser to the Myanmar president told China Daily in an exclusive interview during a recent visit to China.
The remarks were given by Ko Ko Hlaing, chief political adviser to the Myanmar president, who led a 25-member delegation on a two-week visit to China after being invited by the China NGO Network for International Exchange, an non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting exchanges and communication.
"We were in isolation for many years and now are opening up, but it will not hamper the relationship between Myanmar and China. The bilateral relation is a special one," Hlaing said.
Myanmar was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with New China in 1950. But the two countries' close relationship dates to centuries ago, Hlaing said. He said the ancestors of people now living in both countries had referred to each other at one time as "paukphaw", a Myanmar word meaning brothers and sisters.
The countries' relationship has remained strong in recent decades, especially during Myanmar's isolation, a time that it received much assistance from China. China is now the country's largest investor and trade partner, he said.
"China has gained a lot of experiences in social and economic reforms since the reform and opening-up that we can learn from in our development of many different endeavors, such as agriculture, industry, technology, the provision of social services and urban planning," he said.
Since Myanmar announced its ambition last year to transform itself through a series of political and economic reforms, foreign leaders and diplomats have been paying frequent visits to the country. US President Barack Obama's upcoming trip will make him the first US top leader to ever visit Myanmar.
"We need to keep cordial relations with all nations," Hlaing said. "But the truth is, China is our most important neighbor. We will never forget that."
Myanmar will still hold up the "Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence" China, Myanmar and India that proclaimed in the 1950s to govern their conduct in foreign affairs, and the country will strive to be a good neighbor, he said.
The Myanmar delegation visited several places in China, including Beijing, Nanjing and Hefei and met officials, scholars, NGO staff members and business people. In the adviser's words, that gave them a good opportunity to observe China with their own eyes. Most of the delegates have not come to China.
And he said both sides realize the importance of striving for better mutual understanding and communication level in the future.
"There are lots of people now doing business with Myanmar, and they need more information about us," he said.
People in Myanmar pay a lot of attention to how foreign businesses show themselves to be socially responsible and their integration into the local community, according to U Aye Kyaw, a human resource development specialist who also attended the delegation and offers advice to Chinese companies that are interested in investing in Myanmar.
(China Daily 11/19/2012 page12)