China, Myanmar deepen military ties
Updated: 2013-10-17 00:13
By Pu Zhendong (China Daily)
China firmly supports the ethnic reconciliation process in Myanmar and seeks to play a more constructive role in maintaining peace and stability along the China-Myanmar border, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.
Having long pursued a friendly policy toward Naypyitaw, Beijing "is willing to work with Myanmar to command the general direction of bilateral relations, and to carry out the agreed consensus to promote pragmatic cooperation", Xi said as he met visiting Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar's commander-in-chief of the Defense Services.
Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar's commander-in-chief of the Defense Services
"China and Myanmar, linked by rivers and mountains, share a paukphaw (fraternal) friendship with each other," Xi said, adding that the two neighbors should strengthen strategic communication and accelerate the top-level design of the comprehensive strategic partnership established in 2011.
Xi also commented positively on the military relations between China and Myanmar and said he expects the two countries to deepen bilateral exchanges in various areas.
Min said Myanmar is thankful for China's longtime support for the country and for the positive role China has played in maintaining peace and stability in northern Myanmar.
"Myanmar's military is ready to make unremitting efforts to deepen cooperation with China," he said. Experts said that Min's visit, while continuing of a traditional bond of friendship, is mainly aimed at advancing bilateral military relations.
Song Qingrun, a researcher of Southeast Asian studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said Min has made frequent visits to China since he assumed his position in 2011.
"Military exchanges and communication between China and Myanmar are of great significance for building mutual political trust and enhancing strategic cooperation," Song said.
"China and Myanmar have shared a close and solid relationship, which can be traced back to the foundation of the People's Republic of China," said Xu Qiyu, a researcher at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army.
"The two countries will enjoy a broader range of cooperation, especially within multilateral frameworks, next year, as Myanmar is to take the rotating chair of ASEAN," Xu said.
Kicking off his trip to China on Saturday, Min also held separate talks with PLA Chief of General Staff Fang Fenghui and Vice-Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Fan Changlong over the past two days.
The Myanmarese defense delegation will also visit industrial facilities and meet Myanmarese students in China.
Late last year, armed clashes broke out in northern Myanmar's Kachin State between government forces and the Kachin Independence Organization, raising concerns over the security of the China-Myanmar border and bilateral cooperation projects, such as the $2.5 billion Myanmar-China oil and gas pipelines.
Min said that the friendship between Myanmar and China will never change regardless of how the international and regional situation changes.
Song, the researcher, said military exchanges in general have been moving forward over the past decades, with little impact being felt from domestic affairs.
"(China-Myanmar) military exchanges neither target domestic affairs or a third party, so there is hardly any external interference to bilateral military cooperation," Song said.
China and Myanmar have seen good relations since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1950. However, concerns have arisen as Myanmar accelerated its reforms in domestic politics and foreign policies since 2010, improving ties with the United States and Europe.