China and Myanmar ink $10.2 billion in deals: State media

(From left to right) South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks with Myanmar's President Thein Sein as Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang speaks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ahead of a "family picture" during the 17th Asean Plus Three Su
(From left to right) South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks with Myanmar's President Thein Sein as Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang speaks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ahead of a "family picture" during the 17th Asean Plus Three Summit at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw on Nov 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China has signed agreements worth US$7.8 billion (S$10.2 billion) with neighbouring Myanmar, state media reported on Saturday, as Beijing continues to assert its growing economic clout in South-east Asia.

Deals overseen by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar President Thein Sein on Friday included agreements to build power plants fuelled by natural gas, the state-run China Daily reported.

Beijing was a key backer of Myanmar's military junta while it was under Western sanctions, but Thein Sein has increased ties with other countries including the United States since launching political reforms in 2011.

In a surprise move, Mr Thein Sein in 2012 ordered work on the huge US$3.6 billion Chinese-backed Myitsone Dam to stop after local protests, sparking anger in Beijing. The two countries agreed to establish an "electricity cooperation committee", to keep future projects from meeting a similar fate, the China Daily said.

Other agreements inked include US$300 million in loans to the agricultural sector, and others touching on telecommunications and finance, it said.

Mr Li and Mr Thein Sein met on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw, where China offered US$20 billion in loans to the 10-member Asean.

The offer was seen as an attempt to cool tensions with several Asean nations who are locked in territorial disputes with Beijing over the South China Sea.

In 2013, trade between China and Myanmar amounted to US$10.15 billion, according to Chinese statistics.