China to fund Myanmar projects in agreement with junta

An agreement was signed on Aug 9, 2021, with China's ambassador to Myanmar. PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON (REUTERS) - China will transfer more than US$6 million (S$8.16 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.

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 (Aug 9) with China's ambassador to Myanmar, the statement said. The Chinese embassy's Facebook page confirmed the signing.

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 in Myanmar dealing with the fallout from a surge in Covid-19 infections.

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

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