Wu Bobo, Secretary-General of the International Relations Committee of the People’s Committee of the Federal Parliament of Myanmar, told reporters that the Myanmar Government is vigorously developing labor-intensive industries, increasing the employment rate by providing a large number of employment opportunities, driving the country’s economic development and improving people’s living standards. The Chinese and Myanmar governments signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor” in September, which is expected to provide good opportunities for Myanmar’s economic development.
Wu Bobou pointed out that Myanmar needs foreign capital to develop its economy. Introduction of foreign capital cannot avoid borrowing. The volume of debt, needs to be considered by the Government and Parliament but as of now there is no ‘debt trap’ between Myanmar and China. At this stage, there are some differences between Chinese companies and the Myanmar Government on the issue of sovereign guarantees for some projects. Wu Bobou believes that these issues will be resolved with more in-depth and frank communication between the two sides and with the further promotion of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, proposed construction of a “herringbone” China-Myanmar economic corridor to create a three-point support and a three-pronged pattern of cooperation when he met with Myanmar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Aung San Suu Kyi, in the capital in Nepidaw in 2017. Wu Bobo believes that the Eastern section of the “herringbone” China-Myanmar Economic Corridor connects Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar, with Yangon, the largest city. This area is the most developed and densely populated area in Myanmar. That project can yield significant short-term gains, which will directly benefit the people along the corridor and will have a good demonstration effect for further construction. The Western section of the “herringbone” China-Myanmar Economic Corridor leads to Rugao in the Southwestern part of Myanmar. Rakhine State is one of the most backward areas in Myanmar. Building of the corridor in this area is expected to enable Myanmar to improve access in the future. The long-term gains will strengthen the capacity of the Myanmar economy for long-term take-off.
Wu Bobo said that cooperation between the governments of China and Myanmar had already reached a certain scale. He expressed the hope that the two sides can further enrich the cooperation model in the future and actively try out cooperation between the Government and social capital. In addition, the two sides should expand the scale of exchanges and enhance communication between political parties and civilian exchanges.
Not long ago, the Foreign Ministers of China, Myanmar and Bangladesh held an informal meeting of at the United Nations Headquarters in New York during the 73rd UN General Assembly. They were able to reach a settlement on the Rakhine state problem and on completion of repatriation (of Rohingyas) by both Myanmar and Bangladesh, The three fold consensus on repatriation of the first batch is to be operationalised at the earliest. Wu Bobou thanked the Chinese Government and the Chinese people for their consistent support for Myanmar on the Rakhine State issue and believed that China is a true friend of Myanmar.
On August 25, 2017, the “Rakhine Rohingya Salvation Army” attacked 30 police posts in northern Rakhine State. The Myanmar government forces launched a large-scale counterattack. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fled to neighboring Bangladesh. Some Western countries described the Burmese Government’s actions on the Rakhine State as ethnic cleansing, and its relationship with Myanmar fell to a freezing point.
For some time now, the West has imposed several rounds of sanctions and named Myanmar. The United States and the European Union have suspended military cooperation with the Myanmar Defence Forces, including targetting of some Myanmar Defense Forces Generals by freezing their overseas assets, and prohibiting issuance of visas to them. “Facebook” blocked the “Facebook” and “Photo Sharing” (Instagram) accounts of 20 persons including Mindanao, the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar National Defence Force, the Ministry of Defence of Myanmar, and the Myanmar military newspaper Miaowadi Daily. Recently, the EU is mulling a new round of economic sanctions against Myanmar to discuss whether to cancel the trade GSP for Myanmar.
Wu Bobo said that it was unwise of the West to impose sanctions for they ultimately hurt the Burmese people and affect the ongoing democratic transition in Myanmar. Western countries should seriously reconsider the sanctions. He said that since the democratic reforms of 2010 have not been completed in the eight years since then, the foundation of democracy is yet not strong, and the Myanmar military holds 25% of seats in the Federal and provincial Assemblies in accordance with the 2008 Constitution. Also that Myanmar has its own national conditions that are very special. He hoped that the international community can understand the difficulties in Myanmar and give Myanmar adequate support and patience.
(Report of October 12th from Yangon, by reporter Lu Han)