Top China diplomat promises vaccines in Myanmar

YANGON • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed closer cooperation with Myanmar and promised vaccines against Covid-19, state-run television said on Monday, after he arrived on the first stop of a five-day tour of South-east Asia.

He met President Win Myint and Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of the government whose National League for Democracy party was returned to power in November with a second successive landslide election victory.

Their discussion topics included border security, regional cooperation and China's roles in brokering peace in Myanmar and in the potential repatriation of Rohingya refugees, Myanmar Radio and Television said.

Mr Wang also promised Myanmar 300,000 doses of a Chinese vaccine against the coronavirus.

China is the second-largest investor in Myanmar after Singapore and wants to speed up mega projects launched under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijing plays a crucial role in peace negotiations between Myanmar's army and ethnic armed groups based along the border.

It has also sought to speed up the return of Muslim Rohingya refugees from camps in Bangladesh, and has shielded its neighbour from accusations at the United Nations that it committed genocide against the Muslim minority.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017 after a military crackdown that UN investigators have said was executed with genocidal intent - an accusation that Myanmar denies.

During Mr Wang's meeting with Myanmar's commander-in-chief of defence services Min Aung Hlaing yesterday, they agreed to accelerate the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to boost bilateral ties.

During the meeting, Mr Wang said the main purpose of his trip is to communicate with Myanmar on implementing the results of Chinese President Xi Jinping's historic state visit last year.

China will continue to back Myanmar in safeguarding its sovereignty, national dignity and legitimate rights; supporting the country in pursuing a development path suited to its own national conditions; and supporting its army in playing an active role in the country's development transition.

Mr Wang will be visiting Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines after Myanmar.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2021, with the headline 'Top China diplomat promises vaccines in Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe