China is pursuing efforts to resolve the problem of a stalled dam project in Myanmar, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, adding that Beijing had confidence in the incoming government of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.
In 2011, Myanmar President Thein Sein angered Beijing by suspending the $3.6-billion, Chinese-invested Myitsone dam project, some 90 percent of whose power would have gone to China.
Other Chinese projects in the former Burma have proved controversial too, including the Letpadaung copper mine, against which residents have repeatedly protested, and twin Chinese oil and gas pipelines across the country.
China wants to help Myanmar to have better and quicker development, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his yearly news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of parliament.
“The Myitsone dam is a commercial cooperation project, and had all its approvals completed. Difficulties in cooperation are ‘growing pains’. Both countries will continue to proactively appropriately handle it,” Wang said.
“We have confidence in the future of Sino-Myanmar mutually beneficial cooperation.”
He did not elaborate on how or when the dam issue might be resolved.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) took some 80 percent of elected seats in November, enough to push through its president, but Suu Kyi is blocked from holding the country’s highest office because her two sons are not Myanmar citizens, nor was her late husband.
The NLD has no number two after Suu Kyi, who has said she will control the government from “above the president,” and rumors have swirled over who might fill the top post.
While Beijing had strong ties with Myanmar’s military junta, it has also moved to cement relations with Suu Kyi, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last year.
Wang said China’s strong links with Myanmar would not change because of its domestic situation.
“Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD she leads have always had friendly exchanges with China, and mutual understanding and trust continue to increase. We also have full faith in Myanmar’s future.”
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)