Officials from China and Myanmar acknowledged the potential the two countries possess for further cooperation in the fields of tourism, education and economic cooperation under the framework of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).
China and Myanmar enjoy a long history of friendly relations, and Myanmar is an important member of ASEAN and also an active participant in the BRI construction.
According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, tourist arrivals in Myanmar reached 910,000 in the first six months of 2019, up 33.3 percent from the same period last year. Among the tourists visiting Myanmar, the largest number are Chinese tourists.
With a total of 320,882 Chinese tourists going to Myanmar, the number increased by 140% compared to that in the same period of 2018, which shows Myanmar’s tourism potential around the world, especially in relation to China.
“Myanmar is a country abundant with tourism resources, including natural and cultural resources. These resources are attractive to foreign tourists, including those from China,” said Chen Hai, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar.
“Next, I believe that the number of tourists will increase as Myanmar possesses enormous market potential, including all aspects of infrastructure construction and tourism resources development,” added Chen.
Hau Khan Sum, Director General of ASEAN Affairs Department of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affair, echoed Chen’s words, voicing Myanmar’s hope to welcome more Chinese tourists.
“The number of Chinese tourists visiting Myanmar each year is continuously growing,” said Hau, adding, “We facilitated for on-arrival visas in Yangon Airport, Naypyidaw Airport and Mandalay Airport for Chinese Nationals on October 1 last year to attract more tourists from China.”
He also added that several policies, including the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan as well as the Responsible Tourism Policy and Community Involvement and Tourism Policy have already been implemented to secure the safety and interests of tourists from around the world.
Besides tourism, people from Myanmar and China share a connection in terms of exchange, especially in the field of education. According to Hau, during this year, the number of Burmese students studying in China has reached 140, while the number of Chinese students in Myanmar has reached 251.
“I’d like to emphasise that cooperation and communication between the Ministry of Education in both countries have contributed a lot to China-Myanmar relations,” said Hau.
Chen further broke down the talent exchange between the two countries into detail,
“Myanmar should cultivate high-end talents to develop the country. It’s necessary to rely on its own education system, but the country also needs international cooperation.”
Chen also stressed the importance of highly educated talents when it comes to laying a solid base for guaranteeing the positive development of China-Myanmar relations and the realisation of different programs listed under the framework of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor strategy.
This is reflected in the words of Dai Siyin, a Chinese student who studies Burmese at Yangon University: “I’d like to master Burmese to serve the communication between China and Myanmar when I get back to my country, to promote the development of the Belt & Road Initiative.”
Economic cooperation is the third pillar that helps to boost the China-Myanmar relationship besides tourism and talent exchange.
According to figures from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, an agency under Myanmar’s Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, the Myanmar Investment Commission has permitted a total of 82 Chinese investment projects with total capital of over 323.3 million U.S. dollars in FY 2018-2019.
“Both Chinese and Burmese governments have already finished the top-down design including trade, investment, and project cooperation,” said Chen. “The design is meant to further extend the BRI down into Myanmar and conduct cooperation under the framework of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and BRI,” he added.
A range of categories are included in the top-down design, ranging from primary industries to second and third tier industries, according to Chen.
Such economic cooperation is welcomed by the Myanmar government, “China is Myanmar’s largest trading partner. It is also the country with the second-largest investment in Myanmar,” said Hau.
“China and Myanmar are important friendly neighbours. In addition to the strategic partnership between China and Myanmar, we pursue mutual benefits and win-win outcomes under the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative,” added Hau.