China Anxious, Myanmar Cautious On BRI Projects

Chinese officials are growing anxious as Myanmar government is taking cautious steps regarding the implementation of already-delayed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.

Recently Yang Jiechi, a Politburo member and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission under the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee, recently made a stop in Myanmar capital en route to Europe and conveyed that Myanmar has “set a high standard” when it comes to green-lighting BRI projects, reported The Irrawaddy.

Yang’s high status as a Politburo member gave the meetings a greater significance than Myanmar leaders’ discussions with previous visitors such as State Councilor Wang Yi and Song Tao, the head of the International Department of the CPC’s Central Committee, the report said. The meetings also gave Naypyitaw a rare chance to convey important messages to the highest levels in Beijing.

During the working meeting with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar side emphasized the need for quality investment from China.

The Irrawaddy, in an article, said that the government is proceeding cautiously with the BRI projects and the pace of implementation remains slow.

China has proposed 38 projects under CMEC and Myanmar so far has approved only nine.

Since last year senior Myanmar officials said that Myanmar will only implement the projects that can guarantee mutual benefits for both sides.

Myanmar is demonstrating caution and resistance to China, which has been attempting to deepen its influence through the China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC).

Beijing is eager to see the implementation of its delayed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects start before elections in Myanmar in November, sources said, adding that the Chinese are also concerned with the growing influence of other partners in Myanmar namely the US and Japan.

“Beijing is well aware that both Myanmar officials and the public are wary of the BRI projects and has taken note of the steady rise of anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar,” the article noted.

A recent increase in the military capabilities of armed ethnic groups in northern Myanmar is causing serious concern among Myanmar’s military leadership. Since last year, the military has seized several caches of Chinese made weapons near the northern border.

China is supplying funds and sophisticated weaponry to armed groups in Myanmar and the Naypyitaw-designated terrorist group, the Arakan Army, to have leverage over Myanmar and India, Licas News had reported.

A military source with experience in South-East Asia confirmed that China is providing approximately 95 per cent of Arakan Army funding. He further revealed that the Arakan Army has approximately 50 MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems) surface-to-air missiles.

Even as it promises to assist Myanmar’s ongoing peace process, China continues to back ethnic insurgents based in northern Myanmar. (ANI)

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