China, Myanmar agree to solve suspended dam issue

Beijing—China and Myanmar agreed on Thursday to enhance cooperation between energy departments to find a proper solution to the suspended Myitsone Dam project.
The agreement came during talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who started a five-day official visit to China on Wednesday.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after the talks, held at the Great Hall of the People, that Suu Kyi said Myanmar’s new government has decided to set up an investigation committee to find a solution to the Myitsone Dam issue that is in both countries’ interests.
Li called on the two sides to properly promote major projects including the Myitsone Dam and the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline to improve infrastructure construction and connectivity, according to Liu.
The Myitsone Dam is jointly funded by China and Myanmar, but was suspended by the Myanmar government in 2011. Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw decided a week ago to form a new commission for reviewing all proposed hydropower projects on the Irrawaddy River, including the Myitsone Dam.
Although the move does not necessarily lead to a final resumption of the project, it is a positive signal that the new leadership in Naypyidaw is handling its relations with Beijing in a prudent and pragmatic manner, analysts said.
Suu Kyi is the first Myanmar leader to visit China since the Southeast Asian nation’s new government was formed in late March. She visited China in June 2015 as chair of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
“Choosing China as the first country to visit outside ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) after taking office as the State Counsellor shows the high importance you and the Myanmar government have attached to relations with China,” Li said to Suu Kyi at the beginning of the talks. Expressing China’s appreciation, Li spoke highly of the deep “pauk phaw” (“fraternal” in the Myanmar language) friendship between the two countries and said he hopes the visit will help drive development of bilateral ties.
During the talks, Li said China and Myanmar have always respected each other and treated each other as equals on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China supports Myanmar’s choice of development path and its efforts to promote national reconciliation, economic growth and well-being, Li said.—Xinhua

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