On This Day

The Day Deng Xiaoping Arrived to Bolster Ties With Myanmar

By Wei Yan Aung 26 January 2020

Yangon – On this day 42 years ago, then Chinese vice-premier Deng Xiaoping arrived in Myanmar on a six-day goodwill visit while tensions were running high between China and the Soviet Union.

Political analysts suggested Deng’s visit was intended to prevent Myanmar from falling under the influence of the Soviet Union and its ally Vietnam. The Sino-Soviet border conflict erupted in 1969, triggering tensions that continued until the Sino-Soviet Border Agreement was signed in 1991.

Following Deng’s visit to Myanmar, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan.

Dictator U Ne Win of the Burma Socialist Programme Party government rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese delegation led by Deng.

Deng promised to provide economic and technical assistance for Myanmar. The Chinese government provided US$63 million in loans without interest for the first seven years. The two sides signed agreements on construction of the Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge, three rice mills and one cotton mill.

After anti-Chinese riots broke out in 1967, the Communist Party of China openly backed the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which was in revolt against the junta. However, following Deng’s visit, China reduced aid for the CPB.

Bilateral relations improved through further visits. U Ne Win, at the invitation of Deng, made his 12th and final visit to China in 1985. During the trip, Deng, by then China’s paramount leader, denied arming or financing the CPB and said China was only providing shelter for ailing leaders of the CPB and their families.

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