Chinese navy ships in Rangoon for five-day visit

Chinese navy ships in Rangoon for five-day visit

Two Chinese navy ships have arrived in Burma‘s main city of Rangoon for a five-day visit, state media said on Saturday, the latest move by Beijing to reinforce military ties with its strategically-located southern neighbour.

China has been on a diplomatic offensive since the government of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi came to power in April, aiming to forge good ties with the resource-rich country.

Suu Kyi visited China in August, where President Xi Jinping told her he wanted to ensure the “correct direction” of relations, and a senior Chinese military officer went to Burma last month.

The two warships, the Xiangtan and the Zhoushan, arrived on Friday, and were met by senior Burmese military officers, the official Xinhua news agency said.

According to Burmese state media, the welcoming party included Rear Admiral Myint Oo, Chinese ambassador to Burma Hong Liang, and Chinese students.

Officers from the two Chinese ships are expected to meet with Burmese military leaders, while members of the crew will participate in sporting events with Burmese servicemen, The Global New Light of Myanmar said on Saturday.

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China had a close relationship with Burma‘s former military-run government, and has looked on with some nervousness at its democratisation process.

China has been pushing Burma to resume work on the Chinese-invested $3.6-billion Myitsone dam project, 90 percent of whose power was originally planned to have gone to China.

In 2011, then-President Thein Sein angered China when he suspended work on the dam, at the confluence of two northern rivers in the Irrawaddy River basin, over environmental protests.

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