With President Xi Jinping of China arriving in Myanmar’s it seems an appropriate time to ask whether the much used phrase “Pauk-Phaw”, meaning fraternal is really an accurate description of the relationship between the two neighbours.
Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to usher in a “New Era” of ties with Myanmar after a Red Carpet welcome Friday on a State visit aimed at buttressing the embattled Government of Aung San Suu Kyi and driving through multi billion dollar infrastructure deals.
Myanmar fighter jets escorted President Xi’s plane as it touched down in Naypyidaw where children presented him with flowers, as he was whisked off to a greeting party.
In addition to being its largest Investor, China has become an indispensable ally for Myanmar as it reels from Western isolation over the Rohingya crisis.
President Xi told Myanmar Leaders;
“convinced that the concerted efforts of our two sides will make this visit a success and take the bilateral ties to a new level and into a New Era”
During the trip, he is expected to Sign a series of mammoth infrastructure deals as part of China’s Belt & Road Initiative a global trade plan that promises to change the face of Myanmar.
President Xi Jinping who is on a two day visit is seeking to push the Belt & Road (BRI) Project as China seeks to push the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC).
President Xi who has put the BRI Project as the centrepiece of his reign will be looking to ink a deal with the Myanmar Government on the deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu in central Rakhine State.
The centrepiece of the so-called China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) is a US$1.3 billion deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu in central Rakhine state, giving Beijing a gateway to the Indian Ocean.
Including a high-speed Rail link is also on the cards to connect the Port and nearby planned Industrial Zone with the Countries shared border. Bilateral trade was worth US$16.8 billion last year & Beijing holds the biggest share around US$4 billion or 40 per cent of Myanmar’s Foreign Debt. Billions of cubic metres of gas and millions of barrels of oil from offshore rigs are pumped each year across the Country into China.
President Xi will sit down with Aung San Suu Kyi and Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing in separate meetings on Saturday.
Ahead of the visit, Aung San Suu Kyi made a rare appearance in Kachin State on the border with China. Kachin is the site of a planned Chinese backed US$3.6 billion, 6,000 megawatt Dam that was mothballed in 2011 in the face of vociferous criticism across the Country.
This is thought to have been a personal slight to President Xi, who signed off on the Myitsone Dam with Myanmar’s then Military Junta as Vice President in 2009.