Fri, June 04, 2010
China > China & World > Wen visits four Asian nations

Oil, gas projects energize relations with Myanmar

2010-06-04 02:08:15 GMT2010-06-04 10:08:15 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Premier Wen Jiabao, accompanied by his Myanmar counterpart Thein Sein, reviews a guard of honor on Thursday in the capital Naypyidaw.[Photo/Xinhua]

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar - Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday vowed to complete key energy projects in the country on schedule, and continue to strengthen six decades of strong relations.

Wen, on the first visit by a Chinese premier in 16 years, and his Myanmar counterpart Thein Sein announced agreements covering oil and gas pipelines, communications, a hydropower station and aid packages.

Briefing Wen on the domestic situation, Thein Sein said the government will gradually push forward the democratic process on its political road map, with a general election set for later this year.

The two leaders also said they would strive to maintain peace and stability on the border.

When Myanmar government troops busted an illegal arms factory in August last year, it triggered several days of clashes with an ethnic militia that sent more than 30,000 refugees fleeing across the border into China.

After the signing ceremony, the two leaders attended a ceremony to officially inaugurate the Sino-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project.

The two countries agreed to build a $1.5 billion oil pipeline and a $1.04 billion gas pipeline in late 2008, and construction started in October last year.

The pipelines will run parallel to each other and enter China at the border city of Ruili in Yunnan province.

The oil pipeline will terminate in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, while the 2,806-km natural gas pipeline will extend to Guizhou and Guangxi .

Analysts say the oil pipeline will diversify China's crude oil import routes from the Middle East and Africa, and avoid the sea route through the piracy-prone Strait of Malacca.

Song Qingrun, a researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the pipeline projects are conducive to both nations' interests.

Myanmar is rich in energy resources, which are unexploited because of capital and technology restraints.

Song said the energy projects provide plenty of job opportunities as well as oil and gas supplies to locals.

"All major Chinese projects in Myanmar have undergone strict environment assessments and meet all international green standards," Song said.

China is Myanmar's third largest trading partner and investor after Thailand and Singapore, with bilateral trade totaling $2.9 billion in 2009.

As of January, China had invested $1.8 billion in Myanmar, or 11.5 percent of the country's total foreign direct investment.

Wen's visit came at a time when the two countries are marking the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship.

Wen returned to Beijing on Thursday evening, wrapping up his four-nation Asian tour which also took him to South Korea, Japan and Mongolia.

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