China and Myanmar: Friends and Neighbors


In Kyaukphyu, where the Sino-Myanmese Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines started, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which is responsible for the project, built a reservoir with a storage capacity of 650,000 cubic meters and diverted running water to three nearby villages. Meanwhile, the CNPC donated over US $1.3 million to construct two middle schools and six elementary schools in four states along the pipeline route. In addition, the CNPC also invested US $6 million to improve the facilities of local hospitals.

The China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) is responsible for the Myitsone Dam project. Of the total investment of US $25.055 million, US $18.55 million was used for the relocation of nearby residents, averaging US $8,644 per person. Aung Min Thar, one of the resettlement villages built under the investment of the CPI, has become an example of success in local rural area development. The new buildings in the village include a school, a temple, a church and a hospital.

According to the requirements of the Myanmese government, the CPI adopted the Environmental Assessment Guidelines of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and entrusted the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) and the Yangtze River Design Company to conduct environmental assessments on Myitsone Dam. Over 100 experts from China and Myanmar worked to assess the impact of the project on the environment of nearby basins and reached a favorable conclusion.

 In fact, professional supervisors were invited to ensure environmental protection in the process of pipeline construction. While constructing the crude oil wharf, the CNPC strictly followed regulations that stones, earth and trees can only be obtained in acquired areas. When building the Tagaung Taung Nickel Mine on the bank of the Irrawaddy River, the Chinese enterprise invested nearly RMB 240 million to construct the most advanced dust-collecting system.

Rich Cultural Exchanges

According to historical records, cultural exchanges between China and Myanmar date back to the Han Dynasty. During the flourishing Tang Dynasty, the prince of Pyu State led a group of musicians to visit Chang’an, the ancient capital of China.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, cultural exchanges have become more frequent. During the Chinese National Day holiday in 1960, U Nu, then prime minister of Myanmar, led a delegation of more than 400 members from the fields of culture, art and film to visit China, and Myanmese Culture Week was held in Beijing. In return, during Myanmar’s Independence Day in January 1961, Premier Zhou Enlai led a delegation of over 530 people from the fields of culture, art and film to Myanmar, and the Chinese Culture Week took place in Yangon. Since the 1980s, the two nations have seen frequent high-level visits, with 13 at the ministerial level. In January 1996, the cultural ministries of China and Myanmar signed an agreement on cultural cooperation.

As Sino-Myanmese ties become tighter, the two countries see increasingly closer cooperation and frequent exchanges in art, literature, film, journalism, education, religion, archaeology and book publication. Statistics show that the number of mutual visits between the two countries has exceeded 600 since diplomatic relations were established. The Tooth Relic of Buddha, a national cultural relic of China, has been conveyed to Myanmar four times for public obeisance and received warm welcome from the Myanmese government and society.

And the list of cultural connections goes on: Since 1998, Myanmese art troupes have performed regularly at the Asian Arts Festival held by the Chinese Cultural Ministry. In 2004, China and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding on educational cooperation; in June 2005, Chinese Culture Month was successfully held in Yangon; in 2011 and 2012, China’s Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe and Acrobatic Troupe staged performances in Myanmar; and in May 2012, the first China-Myanmar Fraternal Friendship activities were organized jointly by the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE) and the China Foundation for Peace and Development (CFPD), in a bid to consolidate Sino-Myanmese friendship, deepen pragmatic cooperation and boost traditional friendly ties.

Dr. Win holds that some concepts advocated by the Western world may not be accepted by the Myanmese people because Buddhist philosophy is deeply rooted in Myanmar. China has the advantage over the West in this regard; so with their common cultural values, there can be no doubt that the two countries will continue to successfully enhance cooperation.

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