Myanmar seeks to resume infrastructure projects with China

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A woman wearing a mask walks in downtown Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 26, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

The Myanmar government is seeking to revive development and infrastructure projects with China, as well as accelerate bilateral economic and technical cooperation with its near neighbor, according to a statement released by the Republic’s Ministry of Information on Tuesday. of the Union of Myanmar.

The announcement said Myanmar is ready to prioritize the implementation of projects involving China’s development aid of 3.8 billion yuan ($596 million), including infrastructure in the environment, rural transport and improving medical access.

According to the announcement, in recent months, the country has achieved national stability and the public health situation has stabilized after receiving vaccines from China. Therefore, Myanmar seeks to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

A senior Myanmar-based state-owned company executive told the Global Times on Thursday that due to the disruption caused by the pandemic and recent social unrest, some of the infrastructure projects that started earlier, including a bridge, are still under construction. However, all commercial projects such as property development, power generation, mining and tourism have been halted.

“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Western sanctions and its delicate relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar is keen to resume infrastructure projects with the China to overcome its economic difficulties, as they are adapted to the country’s current needs,” said Xu Liping, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, on Thursday.

Sources familiar with the matter told the Global Times that Myanmar will include the yuan in its official settlement currency for border trade with China with a targeted pilot settlement program set at around 2 billion yuan ($314 million).

According to the announcement, Myanmar’s State Administrative Council (SAC) reviewed a list of 97 projects that were proposed by the previous government in late 2020 in response to China’s offer of 4 billion yuan ( $627 million) in development assistance to Myanmar.

The SAC also reviewed 15 projects under a separate 200 million yuan ($31 million) grant from China, which will contribute to the success of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). The CMEC, under the Belt and Road Initiative, includes road and rail infrastructure stretching 1,700 kilometers from Kunming in Yunnan Province (southwest China) through several regions. from Myanmar to Kyaukpyu along the Bay of Bengal, site of a proposed Deep Sea Special Economic Zone Project which is of particular significance for economic cooperation between the two countries.

Xu noted that China welcomes stronger cooperation between the two countries but the government should assess the risks of investing in Myanmar.

In March this year, some Chinese factories in Myanmar were attacked by perpetrators. Maung Ohn, Myanmar’s Information Minister, said in the announcement that the country has achieved national stability and is confident that the normalized situation will provide assurance to investors and lead to the improvement of bilateral cooperation. with China.

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