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Do Not Say You Start Too Early; and You Have Close Friends Wherever You Go
--State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on President Xi Jinping's State Visit to Myanmar


From January 17 to 18, 2020, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Myanmar upon invitation. As the trip comes to the end, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi briefed the accompanying journalists on the visit.

Wang Yi said, President Xi Jinping's visit to Myanmar was his first one in 2020. It is a major neighborhood diplomatic action taken by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) upon the overall diplomatic situation. Though the visit was short, President Xi Jinping had a tight schedule, with fruitful results. President Xi Jinping attended 12 events, and witnessed the signing of 29 cooperation documents in various fields. Both sides also issued a joint statement. The Myanmar side has long been looking forward to President Xi Jinping's visit and has received him with the highest courtesy and grand reception. Myanmar President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi jointly attended major events, and Myanmar First and Second Vice Presidents and all Cabinet Members, speakers of both houses of the Union Parliament and leaders of major political parties all accompanied President Xi Jinping for the launch ceremony of celebrations for the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations and China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism.

People from all walks of life in Myanmar spoke highly of President Xi Jinping's visit, and agreed that on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, Chinese President paid a state visit to Myanmar and chose it as the destination of his first overseas trip in the new year, which has demonstrated the profound "pauk-phaw" friendship between China and Myanmar and opened a new chapter of the lasting friendship between the two countries. This is an important milestone in the history of Myanmar-China relations and is bound to have a far-reaching historical impact. The international media have also paid high attention to President Xi Jinping's visit, and generally believed that the summit diplomacy has led the China-Myanmar "pauk-phaw" friendship into a new era, where great progress has been made in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and China's influence has been further enhanced.

I. Building a China-Myanmar community with a shared future and ushering China-Myanmar relations into a new era

Wang Yi said, China and Myanmar are neighbors connected by shared mountains and rivers, and have a borderline of more than 2,200 miles. A river combines people of the two countries together who have conducted friendly exchanges spanning the millennium. As a Myanmar proverb goes, "People live in the same village, and travel in the same boat." In the 1960s, Marshal Chen Yi wrote that "Deep are the feelings of 'pauk-phaw', just as long as the flow of our rivers." Whether it was the exchange of needed goods along the Southern Silk Road during the Qin and Han dynasties, or the joint fight against foreign colonial aggression in the last century, the two sides always trusted and helped each other. Myanmar was the first of countries with a different social system to recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC), and also the first Asian neighbor to sign a border treaty with the PRC. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 70 years ago, no matter how the international situation has changed, bilateral relations have always stood rock-firm, and the future and destiny of the two countries have long been closely linked.

The promotion of the grand proposal of building a community with a shared future for mankind put forward by President Xi Jinping should first starts from neighbors. China and Myanmar enjoy a millennia-old "pauk-phaw" friendship, a fine tradition of sharing weal and woe, and a deep foundation for the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. During this visit, the two sides agreed to build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future. It is a decision which conforms to the trend of the times, meets the expectations of the people of the two countries, enriches the connotation of China-Myanmar relations, and is bound to inject a steady stream of impetus and vitality into China-Myanmar cooperation.

All ethnic groups and political parties in Myanmar have responded positively to this, saying that all Myanmar people are highly consistent in strengthening and deepening "pauk-phaw" friendship with China. President U Win Myint said, the Myanmar side supports the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by President Xi Jinping and stands ready to actively build a Myanmar-China community with a shared future with the Chinese side, which is of great significance to the future development of Myanmar. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said, the "pauk-phaw" friendship between Myanmar and China has stood the test of time, and its profound meaning could only be appreciated by our two countries. China has always been a good friend of Myanmar and the two countries have been bound together. The Myanmar side stands ready to keep sharing weal and woe and build a community with a shared future with the Chinese side. The Myanmar side is also willing to work with China and other countries in the world to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Wang Yi said, in order to grandly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two sides decided to hold the "Year of Culture and Tourism", with more than 70 activities in education, tourism, culture, and other people-to-people and cultural fields. All these will further deepen mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples and lay a more solid social and public opinion foundation for the long-term development of China-Myanmar relations.

II. Jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative with high quality, and endowing China-Myanmar "Gold and Silver Road" new prospects

Wang Yi said, as early as the 4th century B.C., the people of China and Myanmar began to trade with each other through the Southern Silk Road, which is dubbed as the "Gold and Silver Road" by Myanmar friends. It links China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces with Myanmar and India. Today's Belt and Road is the "Gold and Silver Road" of China and Myanmar in the new era. Myanmar is one of the first countries to respond to the Belt and Road Initiative. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi took the lead in establishing a steering committee for the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative in Myanmar in 2018 and served as the chairperson. President Xi Jinping and leaders of the Myanmar side reached new and important consensus during their in-depth discussions on promoting the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. The two sides agreed to push the construction of the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone, the New Yangon City, the China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone and connectivity structures such as roads, railways, electric power and energy in a coordinated way. This shows that the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor is transitioning from an envisioned concept to a phase of concrete construction. A Y-shaped cooperation pattern, which starts from China's Yunnan, goes south through the China-Myanmar border to Mandalay, and then extends to Yangon and Kyaukpyu respectively, just as three pillars, is taking shape.

President Xi Jinping particularly stressed, in external cooperation, China never imposes its own will on others, and opposes the unilateral thinking of winner-take-all. The Chinese side is willing to work with the Myanmar side to steadily push forward the key cooperation projects of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, with greater efforts to benefit local people and give them a stronger sense of fulfillment and happiness. Leaders of the Myanmar side expressed, the joint construction of the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative is of great significance to promoting the national development of Myanmar. It is hoped that the two sides will strengthen cooperation in transportation, energy and production capacity to benefit people's livelihood and pay attention to environmental protection. It is believed that with the deepening of cooperation, Myanmar-China relations will achieve greater development. Myanmar leaders are looking forward to more fruits from the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor to bring more benefits to the Myanmar people. Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing also said, the Myanmar military will be a staunch supporter and promoter of the Belt and Road Initiative. As the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation between China and Myanmar speeds up with more fruits, the "Gold and Silver Road" of China-Myanmar friendly cooperation in the new era will certainly become wider and brighter.

Wang Yi expressed, China and Myanmar enjoy close economic and trade cooperation. In 2019, despite downward pressure on the global economy, bilateral economic and trade volume grew by 28.5 percent, with a 42.8 percent increase in Myanmar's exports to China year-on-year. The Myanmar side is willing to continue to expand trade with China and welcomes more Chinese investments. The Chinese side will further expand the import of Myanmar's goods with competitive advantages and is willing to provide more support for the export of Myanmar's agricultural products to China, the upgrading of its agricultural technology, and trade facilitation.

China and Myanmar not only share a long border, but also enjoy the cultural proximity between Yunnan Province and Myanmar. The two peoples living in the border areas have long shared friendly exchanges and close bonds like relatives, maintained border stability and promoted exchanges and cooperation. During this visit, Yunnan Province has reached the consensus with Myanmar's Mandalay Province on strengthening cooperation under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative and signed a document with Yangon Province on forging friendly provinces. It is believed that Yunnan and Myanmar will give full play to their geographical advantages to deepen practical cooperation, and will certainly make new contributions to promoting China-Myanmar relations for better development.

III. Safeguarding international fairness and justice and restoring new vitality of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

Wang Yi said, China and Myanmar share similar historical circumstances in fighting against invasion and colonization of foreign powers and striving for national independence, and have always sympathized with and supported each other. 65 years ago, China, Myanmar and India, following the trend of history, jointly advocated the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. This is a major and pioneering act in the history of international relations and has set an example of exchanges between countries. Now it has become a universally observed norm of international relations and basic principles of international law, making historic contributions to promoting the establishment of fair and rational international relations.

Wang Yi said, the world today is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century, and the international community is increasingly becoming a close-knit community with a shared future, but injustice and inequality in international relations are still prominent. Protectionism, unilateralism and bullying are going against the trend of the times. Developing countries including China and Myanmar face new challenges in safeguarding respective sovereignty, security, development interests and other aspects.

The leaders of the two countries reviewed the history, looked forward to the future, and exchanged experiences in state governance and administration. Xi Jinping stressed, all countries have the right to choose a path of development that suits their national conditions. The practice of China's great development achievements over the past 70 years has proved that the development path chosen by the Chinese people is successful, and we will continue to move forward down that path unswervingly. We are full of confidence in the future of China. China is securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and in fighting a decisive battle against poverty. The Chinese side is willing to share its experience in poverty alleviation with the Myanmar side to achieve social fairness and justice. The leader of the Myanmar side said, Myanmar is sincerely happy about China's success and believes that under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China will be able to successfully achieve the two centenary goals and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It is hoped that China will share more experience in state governance and administration with Myanmar and other developing countries, and it is believed that China's successful experience will provide an effective reference for economic development, improvement of people's livelihood, poverty alleviation and prosperity in Myanmar.

The leaders of the Myanmar side briefed on Myanmar's position on the Rakhine State and other issues, saying that some countries have been wantonly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries in the name of human rights, ethnic or religious issues and Myanmar will never bow to such pressure and interference. Myanmar insists on solving its problems through peaceful means. The Chinese side, as a good friend of the Myanmar side, is welcome to continue to play a constructive role in promoting the process of peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi said with emotion, for a long time, China has offered valuable understanding and support to Myanmar at both bilateral and international levels, which the Myanmar people will always bear in mind. China's support is not out of self-interest, but to safeguard fairness and justice, which is particularly precious to a small country like Myanmar. The Myanmar side firmly adheres to the One China principle, firmly supports the Chinese side in safeguarding its core interests, and firmly stands on the side of the Chinese friends. President Xi Jinping stressed, China adheres to peaceful development, never seeks hegemony, insists on non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and will continue to speak out for justice for developing countries in the international arena. The Chinese side supports Myanmar in continuing following the development path of its own choice, supports the Myanmar side in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests and national dignity in the international arena, and is willing to play a constructive role in promoting the process of peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar on the basis of respecting Myanmar's sovereignty and wishes.

The leaders of China and Myanmar stressed to continue to uphold the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, jointly defend the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, work together to safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and safeguard international fairness and justice. Under the new situation, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence have been endowed with new connotations of the time, showing long-lasting, profound, and enduring vitality.

Wang Yi said at last, do not say "you start too early"; and you have close friends wherever you go. At the beginning of the new year, President Xi Jinping chose a neighbor with a thousand-year "pauk-phaw" friendship for his first visit, which is another important practice of the Chinese side in promoting the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind to take root in its neighborhood. China's diplomacy is off to a good start. 2020 is a key year of milestone significance for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. We will unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, thoroughly implement Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, actively practice the concept of neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and work with more like-minded countries to promote the historical process of building a community with a shared future for mankind, create a more favorable external environment for the realization of the two centenary goals, and inject more positive energy into the unstable international situation.

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