China is confident it can resolve business disagreements with Burma through friendly talks, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after meeting his counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi, amid pressure from China to resume a stalled $3.6 billion dam project.
The talks with Wang in the capital of Naypyidaw were Suu Kyi’s first official meeting since her appointment as foreign minister.
Last month, China said it would push Burma‘s new government to resume the controversial dam scheme, saying the contract was still valid.
Former Burmese president Thein Sein angered Beijing in 2011 by suspending the Chinese-invested Myitsone dam project, about 90 percent of whose power would have gone to China.
Other Chinese projects in the former Burma have proved controversial, among them the Letpadaung copper mine, which has repeatedly sparked protests from people living nearby, and twin Chinese oil and gas pipelines across the country.
With close trade and economic ties between the two countries, it was natural there would be “certain problems”, Wang said, according to a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry late on Tuesday.
“Myself and Foreign Minister Suu Kyi reached a consensus, that all problems can find an appropriate resolution via friendly consultations,” it quoted Wang as saying, without mentioning specific projects.
Burma‘s new government wants to develop the economy and improve livelihoods, and China is willing to invest more in the country, including in infrastructure projects, he added.
“We will guide Chinese companies operating in Burma to respect Burma‘s laws and rules, respect local customs, pay attention to environmental protection … and fulfill their responsibility to society,” Wang added.
In a sign the business relationship remains on track, Chinese state-controlled commodity trader Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Co has won approval from the Burmese government to build a long-planned $3 billion refinery in partnership with domestic parties, including the energy ministry.
China has been at pains to ensure its formerly close relationship with Burma‘s one-time military rulers continues under the new government, one of the reasons for Wang’s visit.
The Global Times, an influential Chinese state-run tabloid, said in an editorial on Wednesday it hoped the Myitsone dam could be revived.
“A stable Myanmar [Burma] under new systems with predictable national policies is in accordance with China’s national interests,” said the paper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
Clashes between the Burmese government and ethnic rebel groups in recent years have pushed refugees into China, much to Beijing’s anger.