China, Burma Sign Five Agreements

By San Yamin Aung 17 May 2017

RANGOON — China and Burma signed five agreements on Tuesday regarding cooperation in economic development, health, and the preservation of historic monuments in Bagan, following a meeting between State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

An agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Cooperation within the Framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative were signed between the two countries.

A MoU was signed by both commerce ministries to establish a China-Burma Border Economic Cooperation Zone.

Another MoU was signed on health cooperation by Burma’s Ministry of Health and Sports and the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China.

The Ministry of the Religious Affairs and Culture signed a MoU to cooperate on post-quake restoration and protection of historic monuments in Bagan with China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Chinese Premier attended the signing ceremony for the five agreements.

U Maung Maung Soe, a political analyst, said among the five, two stand out: the Framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, and the establishment of the China-Burma Border Economic Cooperation Zone, adding that the level of country agreement on future MoU proposals remains to be seen.

It seems that China wants to open another economic zone on the China-Burma border near Chin Shwe Haw of Kokang, near the Muse Special Economic Zone, he said.

He also added that the One Belt, One Road MoU could be related to a deep-sea port project in Kyaukphyu which is still being negotiated by stakeholders from the two countries.

“We need to welcome economic investments but it is important to carefully considered who will control [infrastructure and development] projects,” he said.

He added that to have equal control in joint ventures, the government needs to invest equally, but Burma’s debts remain a problem and need to be considered, especially as electricity production is limited for industrialization.

The State Counselor was on her second official visit to China since the new government took office to attend China’s Belt and Road Forum.

She met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday.