» 09/22/2010, 00.00
MYANMAR – CHINA
Beijing gives US$ 4 billion loan to strengthen its presence in Myanmar
The loan, which is interest-free, was agreed in a meeting between Myanmar strongman Than Shwe and Chinese President Hu Jintao, in early September. Government official says money will lead to development. Expert says that the situation of ordinary Burmese will not improve and the government will become a hostage to China.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China has agreed to give Burma a 30 billion yuan (US$ 4.2 billion) interest-free loan. The agreement was reached during junta chief Senior General Than Shwe's five-day state visit to China from 7 to 11 September, Myanmar’s Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development (MNPED) announced. “The interest-free loan agreement between China and Burma was reached after Than Shwe met China's president Hu Jintao in Beijing,” a MNPED official said.
For the Chinese juggernaut, ever thirsty for energy and raw materials, Myanmar is an interesting proposition, a nation run by a repressive military junta that is going to hold elections on 7 November. In view of that, Beijing has already announced it would respect the principle of “non-interference” in the domestic affairs of other countries. The visit by Myanmar’s strongman, Than Shwe, and a 34-member Myanmar delegation, and meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao were designed to strengthen economic and trade ties between China and Myanmar, countries who share a common border in need of tighter controls.
Chinese investments in Myanmar have grown in recent years. Today, China is Myanmar’s third largest trading partner after Thailand and Singapore. In January of this year, China invested US$ 1.8 billion in the southeast Asian country. Very soon, Beijing might take top spot if the current trend continues, this according to a study by the Central Statistical Organisation. In fact, direct investments from mainland China and Hong Kong exceeded US$ 2.3 billion in June.
“The 30-year loan is intended to help fund mass hydropower projects, road construction, railway development and information technology development,” the MNPED official said.
However, accepting the loan from China may leave Burma's military government open to undue Chinese influence and to an invasion by Chinese companies and workers, said a Yangon-based economist, who did not want his name mentioned.
“Ordinary Burmese people will not get economic opportunities from this agreement,” not to mention, he noted, the fact that “government also has not published how they will manage the loan, or how much Than Shwe can spend in the military development sector”.
In fact, a military source said Than Shwe is not going to submit military expenditures to the new parliament that will convene after the 7 November election.
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Myanma migrant workers laid off following Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit
Migrants lost their job because they took part in a meeting with the Myanmar leader. Some local officials were sacked as well. During her three-day visit, the Nobel Prize laureate signed three memoranda of understanding in connection with Myanma migrants in Thailand.
China’s trade surplus up in October
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2005 record year for China trade
The trade surplus tripled, reaching more than 100 billion US dollars. The data, released yesterday, will fuel calls for a revaluation of the yuan. But government economic bodies exclude this option to maintain high economic growth.
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India announces tariffs on Chinese aluminum: trade war fears on the rise
In January, New Delhi banned Chinese toys for six months, for safety reasons. Annual trade between the two countries amounts to 51.8 billion dollars, but is increasing rapidly.
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India and Myanmar: economic cooperation in the millions
In spite of international pressure to boycott the military junta, New Delhi is accelerating its economic plans: the military second in command and the Indian vice president sign an agreement for the construction of a vast network of freight transport, which will guarantee the eastern part of the union access to the sea and to energy resources.
Pope tells young people to remember the past, to have courage in the present and hope for the future
The Message for the 32nd World Youth Day was issued today centred on “The ‘great things’ that the Almighty accomplished’.” In her meeting with Elizabeth, Mary becomes a model. The pontiff calls on young people to avoid being couch potatoes, safe and cosy, urges them to rediscover the relationship with seniors. The Church experience is not a flash mob. The future should be experienced in a constructive way, and “the institutions of marriage, consecrated life and priestly mission” should not be devalued.
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