China, Myanmar agree to solve suspended dam issue

Source: XinhuaEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-08-18 22:43

BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- China and Myanmar agreed on Thursday to enhance cooperation between energy departments to find a proper solution to the suspended Myitsone Dam project.

The agreement came during talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who started a five-day official visit to China on Wednesday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after the talks, held at the Great Hall of the People, that Suu Kyi said Myanmar's new government has decided to set up an investigation committee to find a solution to the Myitsone Dam issue that is in both countries' interests.

Li called on the two sides to properly promote major projects including the Myitsone Dam and the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline to improve infrastructure construction and connectivity, according to Liu.

The Myitsone Dam is jointly funded by China and Myanmar, but was suspended by the Myanmar government in 2011.

Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw decided a week ago to form a new commission for reviewing all proposed hydropower projects on the Irrawaddy River, including the Myitsone Dam.

Although the move does not necessarily lead to a final resumption of the project, it is a positive signal that the new leadership in Naypyidaw is handling its relations with Beijing in a prudent and pragmatic manner, analysts said.

Suu Kyi is the first Myanmar leader to visit China since the Southeast Asian nation's new government was formed in late March. She visited China in June 2015 as chair of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

"Choosing China as the first country to visit outside ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) after taking office as the State Counsellor shows the high importance you and the Myanmar government have attached to relations with China," Li said to Suu Kyi at the beginning of the talks.

Expressing China's appreciation, Li spoke highly of the deep "pauk phaw" ("fraternal" in the Myanmar language) friendship between the two countries and said he hopes the visit will help drive development of bilateral ties.

During the talks, Li said China and Myanmar have always respected each other and treated each other as equals on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

China supports Myanmar's choice of development path and its efforts to promote national reconciliation, economic growth and well-being, Li said.

"We are willing to work with Myanmar to consolidate political trust and strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields to promote bilateral ties in the new era," said the premier.

The pragmatic cooperation between China and Myanmar aims to benefit the people of two countries and gain win-win results, he said, noting that China is ready to integrate development strategies with Myanmar and plan cooperation in key areas.

He called on the two countries to boost cooperation in the economy, trade and agriculture, and to expand exchanges in culture, education and health.

Echoing Li's remarks, Suu Kyi said the Myanmar-China friendship has a strong foundation among the public.

The new government highly values ties with China and is committed to consolidating bilateral relations, said Suu Kyi, who is also foreign minister.

Myanmar is willing to maintain high-level contacts with China, enhance political mutual trust, promote energy cooperation, expand exchanges in border trade, agriculture, health, education and other areas, maintain stability in border regions and boost people-to-people ties to realize common development, she said.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relationship. Li said China supports the building of the ASEAN community and values Myanmar's role as an important member of the association.

China is ready to cooperate to create a closer China-ASEAN community of shared destiny, he said.

Suu Kyi said Myanmar wants to promote continued development between ASEAN and China.

After the talks, the two governments signed an agreement on bilateral economic and technological cooperation and an exchange of feasibility research notes for the Kunlong Bridge in Myanmar. The two leaders witnessed the signing ceremony.

Prior to the talks, Li held a welcoming ceremony for Suu Kyi in the north lobby of the Great Hall of the People.

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