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Xi greeted with gusto in Myanmar

By Cao Desheng in Nay Pyi Taw | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-18 04:04
President Xi Jinping and Myanmar President U Win Myint pose for photos with performers at the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday. It was one of the events held on the first day of Xi's state visit to the country. [Photo by Kuang Linhua/for China Daily]

Visit is first by a Chinese head of state in 19 years; long friendship celebrated

China is willing to consolidate and deepen its pauk-phaw friendship with Myanmar and jointly build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future, visiting President Xi Jinping said on Friday in Nay Pyi Taw.

Xi made the remarks in a meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi after a grand welcoming ceremony hosted by his Myanmar counterpart, President U Win Myint, at the country's presidential palace. The two leaders agreed to hold talks on Saturday to exchange views about bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern.

During the meeting, Xi thanked the Myanmar government and the people for their warm welcome and said China firmly supports Myanmar in pursuing a development path it chooses on its own.

The state counsellor described Xi's visit as "long expected" by Myanmar, and said it has special importance as the two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Saying Myanmar highly appreciates and values China's strong support, she said the pauk-phaw friendship between the two countries has been tested by time, and only they themselves understand the essence of the relationship.

China has been Myanmar's good friend, Aung San Suu Kyi said, and her country stands ready to work with China to build a community with a shared future. She added that Xi's visit will move forward bilateral ties to achieve new development.

On Friday, Xi also held talks with U Win Myint and attended a welcoming banquet hosted by him.

The visit is Xi's first overseas trip this year, and is the first visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president after an interval of 19 years. The visit hit the headlines of Myanmar's media and was hailed by local people as a historic trip to consolidate the traditional friendship and intensify bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The English language newspaper Myanmar Times reported on Friday that the Chinese leader's visit is seen as an attempt to further establish bilateral relations and push ahead the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor concept, as well as other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Hla Kyaw Zaw, an observer of Myanmar-China relations based in Yangon, said Xi's decision to make his first overseas trip of the year to Myanmar demonstrates the importance China attaches to its relationship with the member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Zaw Lin Oo, a Yangon resident, said he heard news that Myanmar and China will sign a number of cooperation agreements during Xi's visit. He expressed hope that the visit will help strengthen bilateral economic collaboration and create more opportunities for young people like him.

May Myat Noe Thu, who worked for the local branch of Yunnan Yuntianhua Co in Myanmar, said this is a good opportunity for Myanmar to be involved in the BRI and boost its development. She said she hopes China will assist in the country's peace process.

Related story: Xi, Myanmar leaders celebrate 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties

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