Myanmar ready to welcome President Xi

By Li Xuanmin in Naypyidaw Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/16 21:13:40 Last Updated: 2020/1/16 21:44:29

Burmese employees of the China-Myanmar crude oil and gas pipeline project display their calligraphy, which say"Happy Chinese Lunar New Year" and "Warm welcome for President Xi" on Wednesday, ahead of President Xi Jinping's state visit to Myanmar which begins on Friday. Photo: Courtesy of CNPC

Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Myanmar, residents of Yangon and Chinese analysts painted a promising picture of how the two Asian economies could further cement bilateral political trust, overcome unfair international prejudice and defend multilateralism against rising global hegemony. 

Such a relationship should be an equal, mutually respectful and open partnership based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence - jointly initiated by China, Myanmar and India 66 years ago -  to "share the goods and bads" rather than an alliance that aims to confront the rise of other economies.

Xi is expected to pay a state visit to Myanmar from Friday to Saturday, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. This marks Xi's first state visit in 2020. 

Driving around Naypyidaw, the country's capital city, the Global Times reporter noticed that welcome banners such as "Warm Welcome to Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Myanmar" and "China-Myanmar friendly cooperation to continue forward" lined the city's main streets. 

Residents appeared thrilled about the visit, happy to discuss their impressions of China and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Global Times reporter overheard several times locals chatting in restaurants about Xi's visit. 

Some had read the Burmese version of President Xi's books, such as Xi's Classical Quotes and Governance of China, as a way to understand their neighboring country.

"I'm excited after hearing the news," Khin Maung Lynn, joint secretary of the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday. "This year will start significantly with the goodwill visit of Xi, which will surely bring our relationship to a higher level and make a good start for the new era of a closer and warmer friendship."

Lynn said he hoped China could share with Myanmar its wisdom on poverty reduction, opening up its economy, good governance as well as anti-corruption drives. 

In Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, Chinese investments are ubiquitous, offering a vivid display of the stronger vitality of the relationship between China and Myanmar.

In 1986, China Zhongtie MBEG aided construction of the Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge, a rail-road bridge that connects Yangon with the Thanlyin town, marking one of the earliest Chinese projects in the city. Now in downtown areas, Beijing Construction Engineer Group is renovating the Yangon National Theater, a project it once helped build. 

A major BRI urban project, the 80-square-kilometer Yangon New City, is also under planning by China Communications Construction Company. 

U kyaw Win, chairman of Myanmar firm Shwe Than Lwin Group, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Xi's state visit portrays China's special emphasis on a "paukphaw" relationship with Myanmar. 

In Myanmar language, paukphaw means siblings from the same mother. The word is assigned specifically to describe the asymmetrical relationship between China and Myanmar.

"It will also manifest to the international community China's support for Myanmar [when the latter is under mounting criticism by the Western world]," Win said. 

Welcome banner for Chinese President Xi Jinping is on display on the main street of Naypyidaw on Thursday. Photo: Li Xuanmin/GT

Key anniversary 

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and Myanmar. 

Myanmar analysts and officials said that Xi's visit, the first state visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president in 19 years, could further strengthen their comprehensive strategic cooperation and consolidate bilateral political trust. 

There are good foundations for both countries to further increase political trust, as they both face similar discrimination from the outside world, mostly the Western world, for their political systems, according to observers. 

"Some Westerners think in an arrogant way that their political system and values override those of China and Myanmar. Some even try to pressure the countries to accept their values, which draws strong objections from both," Huang Jing, dean of the Institute on National and Regional Studies at Beijing Language and Culture University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

As such, China and Myanmar should work together to prove to the world their confidence in an independent and prosperous development path, according to Huang. 

"China's peaceful development and friendly neighborhood diplomacy is benefiting its neighbors like Myanmar," U Ko Hlaing, co-founder of Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"It is natural that the two economies join hands based on the Five Principle of Peaceful Coexistence to bring stability and peace to Asia and the world." 

The ongoing China and US trade war is entering its 22nd month, which has also weighed on the economy of Myanmar . 

Huang noted that as China and Myanmar both called for a stable external environment for their development, the two countries also share common interests to work together to tackle "America First" diplomacy and guard against unilateralism. 

But unlike the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-type alliance that serves US interests, Myanmar people described the ties between China and Myanmar as an inclusive and equal partnership. 

"We appreciate, respect each other's values and we both benefit from the partnership. We share the goods and bads," Win said.

Such a relationship was a good example of building a community of a shared future for mankind, Win said. 


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