12/19/2009, 00.00
MYANMAR - CHINA
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Economy and energy at the centre of meeting between Beijing and the Burmese junta

Face to face between Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and the chief Than Shwe, head of the Burmese military junta. Among the points in question the pipeline linking China and Myanmar and a mega hydroelectric power plant worth 600 million dollars. Beijing is the fourth largest investor, with a turnover of 2.6 billion.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will meet with the head of the Burmese junta, Than Shwe, during his official visit to Myanmar, scheduled for today and tomorrow in the capital Naypyidaw. The visit concludes the tour of the 4 Asian countries - Japan, South Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar - which Xi has been conducting since last December 14. The official Xinhua news agency anticipates that during the meeting the two leaders will discuss "the development of friendly and fruitful Sino-Burmese relations”.

 Economy and Energy  

Xi Ping's visit to former Burma is the first high level visit since, in October last year, work started on the new oil / gas pipeline linking the Burmese port of Madaya Island, on the Indian Ocean, with Ruili, a town in Yunnan - southwestern province of China - via Mandalay. The pipeline of over 770 kilometers, costs about $ 2.5 billion and has a capacity of 84 million barrels per year, once completed in 2013 it will channel about 85% of its energy imports from Africa and the Middle East to China.  

Beijing’s race to secure Burmese resources includes the mega Yeywa hydroelectric power project on the River Myitnge in Mandalay Division. The station, of  790 megawatts and a cost of 600 million dollars, is the third largest project of its kind in the world.  

According to data from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, commercial relations between the two countries in 2008 were worth 2.6 billion dollars. With 1.331 billion dollars, China is the fourth largest investor in Myanmar. According to data of the Economist Intelligence Unit in London, 6.9% of total exports from the former Burma are destined for China, from whence arrives 35.9% of Burmese imports.

 Politics and Security  

But beyond economic affairs, the leaders of two allied countries will also discuss politics. In particular, according to analysts, the weekend talks will address the issue of security along the border, where ethnic guerrillas generate a substantial flow of migrants into China. Last August, about 37 thousand Chinese ethnic kokang in north-eastern Myanmar fled to China after the junta launched an offensive against their community, who refused to become " border militia."

Since 2008, in fact, the Burmese regime are trying to convert all the autonomous ethnic militias into a kind of border police under the control of the government. Beijing has warned Naypyidaw to protect the interests Chinese ethnicity in its territory and secure the border.

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