Wu urges investment in Myanmar
China’s top legislator said on Friday that the country would continue to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Myanmar, although some projects have encountered setbacks.
During a meeting with Myanmar President U Thein Sein, Wu Bangguo, chairman of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said the two countries have achieved remarkable results in economic and trade cooperation in the past, but there is still much potential for growth.
He said China would continue to encourage and support big, credible companies to expand their investment in Myanmar.
Wu said there is an urgent need to push forward some projects that have been agreed on by both countries. These projects are beneficial not only to China, but also to Myanmar’s domestic industry and local people’s quality of life.
He said both sides should have confidence and take active measures to erase existing difficulties to ensure the smooth progress of some major projects, such as the joint oil and gas pipeline venture.
Thein Sein said Myanmar welcomes Chinese investment, especially in labor-intensive industries and the agricultural processing industry, and is willing to offer favorable policies in these sectors.
He also proposed to broaden pragmatic cooperation with China in infrastructure, agriculture and energy, and push forward investment and trade in border areas.
On Friday, the two leaders also witnessed the signing of nine economic and trade cooperation documents and two finance agreements between China and Myanmar. No details of these documents were revealed.
China-Myanmar economic and trade cooperation has been growing steadily. In 2011, bilateral trade between the two countries totaled $6.5 billion, up 46.3 percent year-on-year, according to figures from the Chinese government.
China’s investment in Myanmar also reached $20.26 billion by the end of last year, leading Myanmar’s foreign trade investment, official figures show.
However, some projects with Chinese involvement have encountered problems. Myanmar last September suspended work on a $3.6 billion Chinese-led dam in Myitsone, Myanmar’s largest hydropower project, citing complaints from local residents and opposition parties. The future of the project has not been settled.
Wu arrived in Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday to start his goodwill visit. He is the most senior Chinese leader to visit the country in nearly a decade and the first chairman of China’s NPC Standing Committee to visit Myanmar since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1950.
During Friday’s meeting, Wu proposed more cooperation in culture, education and tourism.
Thein Sein agreed, saying China and Myanmar are “true friends”, and Myanmar people will never forget China’s political support and economic assistance.
Experts said Wu’s visit is of great significance, coming at a time when both China and Myanmar are at a crucial stage of reform and development.
Xu Liping, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Wu’s visit helps promote the Sino-Myanmar comprehensive strategic partnership, established last year.
“However, such a partnership still faces challenges, because some Chinese investment projects in Myanmar, especially those that may affect the local environment, are causing concern to the locals,” he said.
Dong Fangyu in Beijing contributed to this story.
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