- Both sides are expected to support each other in areas such as the Rohingya crisis and Xinjiang following Xi Jinping’s visit
- Visit was first by a Chinese leader since 2001 and helped cement Beijing’s influence
China and Myanmar sought to present a united front during President Xi Jinping's visit last week in the face of growing international pressure
In a joint statement released after the visit on Saturday, the two sides said that they would deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership, which China regards as one of the highest levels for bilateral relations.
The two sides also "exchanged opinions" on building a "community of shared future for mankind", one of Xi's signature concepts for China's foreign policy.
Xu Liping, from the Chinese Academy of Social Science's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, said the two sides would be expected to support each other internationally on "core issues".
Xi Jinping wraps up Myanmar visit with string of infrastructure deals
Under the concept of shared destiny, Xu said that Beijing would support Myanmar's approach to the Rohingya crisis, which has prompted a genocide hearing at the International Criminal Court.
In return, China would expect support on issues such as Xinjiang, where it is accused of detaining a million mainly Uygur Muslims and the South China Sea, where its extensive claims face growing opposition.
According to Myanmar's government, a total of 33 bilateral deals were signed during Xi's two-day visit, the first by a top Chinese leader since 2001.
Of those, 13 agreements were related to infrastructure, including a concession and shareholder's agreement for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone.
The project includes a deep seaport project at the Bay of Bengal, which, once finished, could directly connect China's less-developed southwestern region to the Indian Ocean through road and rail links.
Speaking to reporters in the capital Naypyidaw, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi also said that China hoped to increase trade between the two countries, including in agricultural goods.
Beijing also expressed support for more dialogue between the Myanmar government and ethnic groups involved in a long-running insurgency along the Chinese border.
The Myanmar Times reported that Xi had promised Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the armed forces, that the Chinese government would try to stop Chinese territory being used to smuggle weapons to rebel groups.
While observers agreed that Xi's visit would help cement China's influence in the country, Beijing's efforts to further economic integration will face crucial challenges, particularly from rival countries.
China turns to Myanmar as the 'friendly giant in the neighbourhood'
"Not just China but the US, as well as India and Japan are seeking to strengthen their own geopolitical influence in Myanmar," Xu said.
"The US and Europe have maintained significant influence over local non-governmental groups that have a negative impact on Chinese investment due to environmental and debt issues."
Japan, a close US ally, pledged US$8 billion in development loans under a five-year plan that started in 2016. It has also worked with Myanmar to establish the Thilawa Special Economic Zone in Yangon.
Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, agreed, saying that intensifying power competition in the region could affect Myanmar's policy towards China.
The country is due to hold a general election this year and the country's effective leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy are pushing for changes to the military-backed constitution.
Xu said that if these developments lead to political uncertainty, it "will definitely lead to uncertainty in its foreign policies".
Sign up now for our 50% early bird offer from SCMP Research: China AI Report. The all new SCMP China AI Report gives you exclusive first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments, and actionable and objective intelligence about China AI that you should be equipped with.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章