A huge oil tanker leaves the dock after unloading at Ma Day Island port, Kyaukpyu in western Myanmar. Photo by China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project
A huge oil tanker leaves the dock after unloading at Ma Day Island port, Kyaukpyu in western Myanmar. Photo by China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project

By Ding Zi

China and Myanmar, linked by mountains and rivers, have enjoyed close people-to-people bond since ancient times, leaving numerous touching stories of bilateral exchanges.

During my stay in Myanmar for interviews, I was profoundly impressed by the close ties shared by the two peoples and their efforts for joint progress.

U Khin Maung Lynn, senior researcher of the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS), hailed China-Myanmar friendship on a wheelchair at a think-tank exchange meeting. The 73-year-old Mya Than Than Nu, who is the daughter of former Prime Minister of Myanmar U Nu, still has a clear memory of her visits to China with her father during childhood.

Wutyee Tun, a 13-year-old girl from Dala Township, Yangon, had her congenital heart disease cured in China through a Chinese medical program aiming to saving Myanmar children with such problems. When finishing the interview, she held my hands and saw me off at the village entrance.

These people from different generations and different backgrounds, established a bond with China and made their unique stories, forming a ceaseless flow for the river of China-Myanmar friendship. A “Chinese knot” is tightly tied in the heart of each one of them.

At present, China and Myanmar are seeing robust momentum in trade and cultural cooperation. In the first 11 months of 2019, bilateral trade volume between the two countries hit $16.8 billion, up 21.6 percent from a year ago. Under the efforts of the enterprises from both countries, the mobile communication penetration in Myanmar surged from less than 2 percent to over 100 percent in just a few years.

China’s textile industry has created over 400,000 jobs in Myanmar, helping the latter earning foreign exchange of more than $3 billion on an annual basis. In the first 10 months of last year, Myanmar received more than 500,000 Chinese tourists. The number registered a huge growth.

These figures represent the expanding pragmatic cooperation between the two countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as an epitome of the increasingly closer people-to-people exchanges between them.

I once read a bilingual book in both Chinese and Myanmar languages that collects articles on China-Myanmar relations published by Myanmese media in recent years. It records the feelings and thoughts of Myanmar experts, scholars and journalists who visited China. They believe China is a country that advances with the time and shares the same responsibilities and destinies with Myanmar.

Many people in Myanmar are exploring the secrets to China’s development. Officials of Myanmar’s publicity department discussed with me the Chinese Dream; the editor-in-chief of Myanma Alinn Daily paid close attention to China’s poverty alleviation; Joint Secretary of the MISIS frequently mentioned the Chinese experience of “no road, no economy”.

People from China and Myanmar share close bond and are sincere to each other. The similar experiences and development tasks they share are enhancing their communication over their traditional friendship and their governance philosophies. Their common aspiration and joint efforts are promoting the public support for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

As the year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, the China-Myanmar ‘Phauphaw’ (fraternal) friendship is gaining new connotation, releasing new vitality and energy in the new era.