China and Myanmar reached an agreement on an oil pipeline between the neighbouring countries yesterday after almost a decade of talks, with the project due to start “very quickly”, Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said yesterday.
The new oil gateway fits with China’s “One Belt, One Road” ambitions, linking it with central Asia and Europe, and will provide a more direct alternative route to sending Middle Eastern oil via the crowded Malacca Straits and Singapore.
The agreement highlighted the visit to China by President U Htin Kyaw and First Lady Daw Su Su Lwin, who were welcomed at a ceremony by Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping and his wife Mrs Peng Liyuan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Bilateral meetings were then held at Hei Bei Hall of the Great Hall of the People with Union Ministers U Kyaw Tint Swe, Dr Than Myint and U Win Khaing, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin, Chairman of Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone Management Committee Dr Soe Win, Myanmar Ambassador to China U Thit Lin Ohn and officials in attendance.
The Chinese President was accompanied by ministers, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Mr. Hong Lian and high ranking officials.
A signing ceremony between Myanmar and China followed. The Agreement on Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property was signed by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin and Head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China Mr. Liu Yuzhu, the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation by Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe and Chinese Minister of Commerce Mr. Zhong Shan, and the Agreement on Crude Oil Pipeline was signed by Myanmar Ambassador to China U Thit Lin Ohn and the President of Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) Mr. Wang Yilin.
The agreement between China’s PetroChina and Myanmar’s government will allow the state energy giant to import overseas oil via the Bay of Bengal and pump it through the pipeline to supply a new 260,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in landlocked Yunnan province.
Similarly, the MoU on Cooperation in Seafarers Training, Education and Development between the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China was signed by Myanmar Ambassador to China U Thit Lin Ohn and Chinese Minister of Transport Mr. Li Xiaopeng, MoU on Cooperation in Forestry Sector between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar and State Forestry Administration of China by Myanmar Ambassador to China U Thit Lin Ohn and Head of State Forestry Administration of China Mr. Zhang Jianlong.
Likewise, “Exchange of Letters of Implementation of Deep Sea Port Project and Industry Park Project in Kyaukphyu SEZ in Myanmar” was signed by Dr Soe Win, Chairman of Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone Management Committee and Mr. Chang Zhenming, Chairman of China International Trust Investment Corporation (CITIC), “MoU on Technical Cooperation for the 29th SEA Games between the governments of Myanmar and China and “Exchange of Letters on Medical Technic Training Centre Project and Exchange of Letter on Myanmar Centre for Disease Control Projects” by U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister and Mr. Zhong Shan, Minister of Commerce of the PRC in the presence of the two presidents.
Last night, President U Htin Kyaw and First Lady Daw Su Su Lwin attended a dinner party hosted by Chinese President Mr. Xi Jingpin.
The announcement wraps up President U Htin Kyaw’s six-day state visit to China, the first since he was elected, where he met President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, as well as visiting a number of Chinese cities including Shanghai and southwestern Chengdu.
Myanmar News Agency/ Reuters contributed to this report