China, Myanmar forge partnership, ink deals on Myanmar president's maiden visit

09:37, May 28, 2011      

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Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with Myanmar President U Thein Sein during the welcome ceremony in Beijing, capital of China, May 27, 2011. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

China and Myanmar on Friday upgraded their relationship to strategic partnership and inked economic agreements, the latest sign of stronger ties between the two neighbors.

"Once again I congratulate you on becoming the first President of Myanmar," Chinese President Hu Jintao told his Myanmar counterpart U Thein Sein Friday afternoon.

Thein Sein arrived in Beijing Thursday for his first state visit since assuming presidency in March.

"This is my first talk with you since the new Myanmar government was installed. Hopefully your visit will cement mutual understanding and friendship," Hu said at the start of talks.

Thein Sein said relations with China is the "closest and most important diplomatic relationship" for Myanmar.

During their hour-long talks, the two leaders reviewed the growth of China-Myanmar ties since the two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1950.

Hu said China-Myanmar ties had held firm against the backdrop of changes in the international arena and enjoyed broad prospect for development.

Thein Sein said Myanmar was satisfied with the way the bilateral ties were developing, citing frequent high-level visits, smooth cooperation in politics and the economy as well as deeper friendship between the two peoples.

Hu called on both sides to work out a program so economic cooperation between the countries could be better planned and coordinated.

Hu and Thein Sein agreed on working more closely in the areas of energy, transport and agriculture.

Thein Sein said he appreciated China's long-term and tremendous assistance to Myanmar, which he said contributed a lot to the economic and social development of his country.

The presidents underscored their commitment to boosting bilateral relations, and they agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

Under the partnership, the two countries will maintain close high-level contacts, continue to build bilateral relations between the parliaments, governments, judicial departments and political parties.

The two sides will work more closely to enhance the size and level of economic cooperation and trade.

"It is natural that China-Myanmar relations have been upgraded to strategic partnership as bilateral relations are now at their best," said Song Qingrun, an expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

In another meeting with Thein Sein earlier Friday, Premier Wen Jiabao said China would like to continue providing assistance to help Myanmar develop economically.

Bordered by China on the northeast, Myanmar shares a borderline of more than 2,200 kms with China.

China is Myanmar's largest investor with an investment totaling 12.32 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, according to Chinese government statistics.

Wen appealed for the smooth implementation of infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines, hydroelectric power and transportation.

China-Myanmar trade soared by 53.2 percent to 4.44 billion U.S. dollars last year, according to Chinese statistics, making China Myanmar's second-largest trading partner after Thailand.

At the end of the talks, Hu and Thein Sein witnessed the signing of a series of economic agreements.

According to a joint statement issued later Friday, China reaffirmed its respect for Myanmar's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and its support for Myanmar's pursuit of its development path suited to its national conditions.

Myanmar reiterated its adherence to the one-China policy, and pledged to continuously support the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and peaceful reunification of China.

The two sides also agreed to further enhance coordination and cooperation in the United Nations and other multilateral areas, and jointly safeguard the interests of developing countries.

The two neighbors also vowed to strengthen cooperation in such regional mechanisms as the the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, ASEAN plus China and the Greater Mekong Subregional Economic Cooperation.

Under the statement, China and Myanmar will strengthen border management cooperation, conduct timely communication on border management affairs and strive to maintain peace and stability in border areas.

Thein Sein will conclude his three-day China visit on Saturday.

Source: Xinhua

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