Thein Sein Talks Investment, Kachin Conflict during China Visit

China’s President Xi Jinping and Burma’ President Thein Sein shake hands at the Boao Forum, in Sanya, Hainan Province, China, on April 5, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

HONG KONG—On Sunday Burmese President Thein Sein concluded his three-day visit to China, where he met the new Chinese President Xi Jinping and key business leaders to discuss Chinese investments in Burma and peace talks in the Kachin conflict.

On Friday, Thein Sein left for Sanya, a coastal tourism town in China’s southern province of Hainan, to attend this year’s Boao Forum, a summit for government and business leaders. He was welcomed with military honors by President Xi Jinping.

According to Chinese state media reports of the bilateral talks, Xi reiterated the statements he made during their meeting in autumn last year, stressing the importance of “assuring the smooth implementation of major cooperation projects.”

But he deviated from earlier talking points to say that the Sino-Burmese friendship should not “be disturbed by external forces,” an unusually direct statement that reflects China’s growing concern over Western influence in Burma.

During the country’s decades of isolation China was its main investor, but in recent years Chinese megaprojects have caused a backlash among the Burmese population. In the past few months, there have been repeated protests against a Chinese-backed copper mine in northwestern Burma.

Xi also told Thein Sein that China supported the peace talks between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), adding that China was willing to “continue to play a constructive role” in solving the ethnic conflict on Burma’s northern border.

His statements came a day ahead of scheduled peace talks between the Burmese government and the KIO in the Kachin capital Myitkyina. However, the talks were cancelled on Friday without any explanation.

According to Kachin sources, the Burmese government suggested to move the venue of the talks from their previous location in the Chinese border town of Ruili to the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. Unconfirmed reports suggested that the Burmese government wanted to move the talks, as it had tired of Chinese mediators asserting their interests in the talks.

Naypyidaw has been fighting Kachin ethnic rebels, who are based on Burma’s mountainous northern border with China, since June 2011. From December to early February this year the fighting escalated, raising concerns in China that the conflict might spillover into its territory. The Chinese reacted by strengthening their security presence along the border.

Thein Sein assured Xi of his government’s willingness to advance the peace process in Kachin State and welcomed Chinese support for the talks, according to Chinese media reports. The president also said Burma would assist China in its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Burma is scheduled to chair the regional bloc next year.

The president also invited Xi Jinping to visit his country. A visit by Xi, who assumed the Chinese presidency in last month, would be the first by a Chinese head of state since Jiang Zemin’s visit to Burma a decade ago.

After the meeting, the two delegations issued a joint communique in which China “affirmed Burmese sovereignty” and both sides agreed to “strengthen cooperation in border management.”

On Saturday, Thein Sein received Chinese delegations at the MGM Grand Hotel and discussed Chinese investments and tourism with the Hainan provincial Party Secretary Luo Baoming.

In other meetings, he discussed Chinese investment in two nickel mines in Mandalay Division and Chin State. Thein Sein also held talks about the China’s Kyaukpyu deep sea port in Arakan State and the upcoming completion of its oil and gas pipelines, which provides a strategic supply line connecting the Bay of Bengal with China’s southwestern region.

It is not known whether Thein Sein met with the Chairman of China Power Investment (CPI) Li Xiaolin, who also attended the Boao Forum. CPI is still hoping to resume the construction of the controversial Myitsone dam on the Irrawaddy River in Kachin State, Wang Qiyue, the company’s lobbyist in Naypyidaw, told China Radio International on Friday.

On the last day of his visit, Thein Sein gave an inaugural speech at the Boao Forum, in which he focused on food and energy shortages in the region and the role that Burma could play in resolving these issues. “Burma’s prominent strategic position is proof that the development of Burma is important for the development of Asia as a whole,” he told the forum.

The event offered the Burmese government delegation a chance to meet with China’s newly appointed economic policy makers, such as the Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi and Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, who both assumed office last month.

Thein Sein travelled with a heavy delegation that included Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister of the President’s Office Tin Naing Thein, Minister of Energy Than Htay, Minister of National Planning and Economic Development Kan Zaw, Minister of Mining Myint Aung and Deputy Minister of Health Win Myint.

On Sina Weibo, China’s most popular micro-blogging platform, the comments about Thein Sein’s were positive, and some praised his government’s democratic reform agenda. “You are getting more and more away from the evil path of the past,” commented one person. “It’s a pity he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize,” wrote another.

“Let’s hope we can learn from Thein Sein’s constitutional experience,” one person quipped, pointing to the lack of implementation of fundamental rights in China that are formally guaranteed by the Chinese constitution.

7 Responses to Thein Sein Talks Investment, Kachin Conflict during China Visit

  1. “According to Kachin sources, the Burmese government suggested to move the venue of the talks from their previous location in the Chinese border town of Ruili to the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. Unconfirmed reports suggested that the Burmese government wanted to move the talks, as it had tired of Chinese mediators asserting their interests in the talks.”
    China interest is to ask bama military thugs to get back their business , signed by than shwe and his men. Bama military thugs’ interest is how to bully all ethnics by retaining big all profit without any sharing portion to ethnics who have right to get any profit portion acquired from their lands and resources. Very soon faked monk , idiot Wirathu will create 9+6+9, supported by Fox than shwe to kill more ethnics for more ethnic belief of Christianity.

    • Once all of Burma becomes a Chinese Vassal State, Buddhist monks (fake or otherwise) might have to do self-immolations like in Tibet, no?

      • By the same token, ethnics should start to self-immolate to protest against Burman brutalities.
        Even better, the police who are investigating the arson attack of 46th street Mosque might fabricate that those 13 Muslim boys self-immolated to protest against Muslim murders in other cities. This makes more sense than the electrical wire shock, doesn’t it?

  2. UN, EU and US are the ones who can handle in negotiating peace talk between USDP and Ethnics because atheist communist China is not trusted by all christian ethnics. China is swallowing Burma alive; that is so scary.

  3. Too many things will be learned from Burma in which there was civil revolution without civil war. Appreciate your non violent activities. (a Chiese physician)

  4. reform in Myanmar,famous word through out the world.thein sein lead,military back government cheated citizen creating new political Drama.minority like ethnic rohingya ,kachin,naga etc. facing unexpected conflict under tyrant bama force.No more sanction,ruling class are hosted by western leaders,for which Myanmar leaders are very hungry.for Myanmar regime and for regime in china can expect each other as fix deposit.china getting resource they want from Myanmar,with expense of 60 million public,Myanmar getting support for implement their evil intention, like war in kachin ,genocide in arakan and meikhtila etc. minority in Myanmar facing life and death , there is less attention from world community as Myanmar leaders are pretender of support Myanmar evil leadership,extremist monks,rakhine extremist chauvinist, racist khin Nyunt, dominant Business men tay za,Max Zaw zaw played very important part in barbaric game.thien sein pretend as good leader is so successful, event Nomination for Noble peace prize,it is worried like Pol pot,Macos,Stalin may be going to nominate for noble peace cheap is noble peace prize?To make matter worst very soon to assume Asean leadership is very worried for minority right in the barbaric,inhuman president thien sein can create more violent for Muslim Myanmar and Thailand as is his habit. .Myanmar leaders they them self don’t know how to manage own business, how can they offer to other business advice and good governs advice?they can offer only advice of Loot, cheat state Fund and share with it,marginalized opponent.

  5. Thein Sein asked Wanbao to invest in Burma for UMEHL, not for the public. WANBAO is very pleased about occupying the whole Myanmar.

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