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Xi concludes Burma visit with handful of MoUs

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping wrapped up his Burma visit on Sunday with assurances of several projects on trade, finance, oil and natural gas pipeline and stability along the Sino-Burma border.

According to Burma’s state-owned New Light of Myanmar newspaper Xi and his counterpart Vice-Senior General Maung Aye witnessed the signing of 16 MoUs including five agreements on development of trade, economy, transport infrastructures, technological cooperation and purchase of machinery; seven financial agreements, three agreements on hydro-electric power and one agreement on the energy sector and oil and natural gas pipeline. xijinping-thanshwe1

Among the MoUs, is an agreement to allow China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) exclusive rights to build and operate the Myanmar-China Crude Oil Pipeline. The agreement gives CNPC controlled Southeast Crude Oil Pipeline Company, political assurance for the pipeline project.

According to the CNPC’s press release on Monday, the agreement signed in the presence of the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Burmese Vice Senior General Maung Aye will allow the CNPC unit to enjoy rights including tax abatement, crude oil passage through Burma, customs clearance and road operations.

“The agreement also stipulates that Myanmar [Burma] government shall ensure the company's ownership and exclusionary right to the pipeline and guarantee the safety of the pipeline,” said the release posted on the CNPC website on Monday.

The CNPC has started building a crude oil port in Burma since October 31 as part of the 771-kilometre pipeline project aimed at cutting out the long detour that many Chinese oil tankers take through the congested Malacca Strait.

The Myanmar-China Crude Oil Pipeline will start from Maday Island in Arakan state of western coast of Burma and run 771 kilometers through Arakan State, Magway division, Mandalay division and Shan State, and will finally enter Ruili of Yunnan Province in South Western China.

Besides, Xi was also reported to have been assured by Burma’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe of stability along the border.

Burma will work with China to preserve peace and stability of the border areas, Than Shwe was quoted as saying in a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website on Monday.

Than Shwe added that he understands that China and Burma share a long joint border and maintaining peace and stability on the border is extremely important to both countries.

Than Shwe’s pledges came in the backdrop of an armed conflict between government troops and ethnic Kokang rebels in August in Northern Shan State. The conflict drove over 30,000 refugees in to China.

While exchange of high-level visits by China and Burma are not uncommon, Xi’s visit, which is part of his four-nation East Asian tour, is seen as significant as he has been largely tipped to be the successor of President Hu Jintao in 2012.

“Choosing Burma as one of the four countries he is visiting is significant and it means China considers Burma an important ally,” Bo Bo Kyaw Nyien, a Thailand-based Burmese observer, told Mizzima.

He added that the visit is an indication that China and Burma will not only continue but will strengthen their ties, and work out a strategy for border security, which is China’s main concern.

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2009 22:28 )  

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