Beijing to transfer $8.2m to Myanmar junta to fund development projects

YANGON • China will transfer more than US$6 million (S$8.2 million) to Myanmar's government to fund 21 development projects, Myanmar's Foreign Ministry said, in a sign of cooperation resuming under the junta that overthrew an elected government on Feb 1.

Unlike Western countries that have condemned the junta for cutting short democracy and the killing and imprisonment of its opponents, China has taken a softer line and said its priorities are stability and not interfering in its neighbour's affairs.

A Foreign Ministry statement said the funds were to be transferred from China for projects within the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation framework. It said those included animal vaccines, culture, agriculture, science, tourism, and disaster prevention.

An agreement was signed on Monday with China's ambassador to Myanmar, the statement said. The Chinese Embassy's Facebook page confirmed the signing.

China's influence has grown in Myanmar in recent years, with the opening of oil and gas pipelines and plans for economic zones and a major port development.

Opponents of Myanmar's junta have accused China of supporting the military takeover, in which elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted and detained. Beijing has rejected such accusations and said it backs regional diplomacy on the crisis.

Western countries have continued to provide some emergency aid to Myanmar, including US$50 million announced by Washington on Tuesday to support relief groups dealing with the fallout from a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The US funding will aid "those forced to flee violence and persecution" as well as help groups provide healthcare services in addition to essentials such as food, shelter and water, the State Department said. "In the wake of the Feb 1 coup, people from Burma continue to flee their homes due to ongoing violence," it said, using the former name for Myanmar.

Six months after the army seized power, Myanmar's economy has collapsed and its health system has buckled as coronavirus cases surged.

Covid-19 cases peaked in Myanmar last month, with 3,824 new daily infections now reported on average, Reuters data shows. It has seen over 330,000 infections and 12,000 coronavirus-related deaths in total.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2021, with the headline 'Beijing to transfer $8.2m to Myanmar junta to fund development projects'. Subscribe