01/17/2020, 10.31
MYANMAR-CHINA
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Xi Jinping visits Myanmar: economics and geopolitics on the table

The two governments will sign dozens of economic agreements. Naypyidaw represents a crucial junction for the Chinese "two oceans" strategy. Many Burmese, including even army generals, have developed a deep fear of China. It is widely believed that China wants a weak and unstable Myanmar in order to maintain control and influence.

Naypyidaw (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives today in Myanmar for a two-day visit with a strong geopolitical significance, in the year in which the two countries celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations. The purpose of Xi's trip is to strengthen economic ties along the shared border, as well as Chinese investments in other parts of Myanmar under the Belt and Road Initiative (Bri) and infrastructure projects of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (Cmec) .

According to analysts and observers, the two governments will sign dozens of economic agreements, projects to improve roads, promote commercial relations and assist social and economic development. The interests of the Chinese president are concentrated on the implementation of projects such as the seaport of the Special Economic Zone of Kyaukphyu, in Rakhine (western Myanmar); the Economic Cooperation Zone, on the northern and northeastern border of Myanmar; and the New Yangon City project.

Beijing sees Myanmar as a crucial hub for the Chinese "two oceans" strategy - with reference to the Pacific and Indian oceans. It aims to redistribute the balance of power in the region in favor of the communist regime, expanding naval operations from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, where Beijing is to conduct "offshore operations". But China's geopolitical, economic and strategic interests in Myanmar are currently the subject of much debate. Critics say that Myanmar is returning to China's orbit, or even struggling to maintain its neutrality and independence.

Many Myanmar citizens, even army generals, have developed a deep fear of China. During the dictatorship, many oppressed people in Myanmar denounced China's support for the brutal military regime that ruled the country with an iron fist. But today, the Burmese business community would be all too happy to see even more Chinese investment.

On the other hand environmentalists and human rights activists in Myanmar are calling China to abandon a series of controversial projects in the country - such as the Myitstone dam in the state of Kachin. According to opponents, these megaprojects lack transparency and public information; therefore, they face meeting the resistance of local communities.

On the military front, Myanmar generals are wary of Chinese influence on rebel ethnic armies and have recently expressed concern about Beijing's support - in the form of arms sales - for groups operating along the northern border. Several armed organizations have very close ties to China; The proof is in the numerous official statements made yesterday, which welcome President Xi. Furthermore, China's warmth towards the civilian government is also a sore point for Myanmar's military leaders and has certainly created a new dynamic in domestic politics. In this era of post-dictatorship transition, Myanmar is jointly administered by two forces: a civilian government and the army.

Many in Myanmar claim that China wants a weak and unstable Myanmar in order to maintain control and influence over the country. However, Myanmar has recognized China's support for international condemnation and sanctions from the West over the humanitarian crisis that has affected the Rohingya minority in the State of Rakhine; Naypyitaw thanked Beijing and many citizens are aware that, at a critical moment, China preferred to support Myanmar rather than join the international community.

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