Myanmar hosted its first regional meeting since the military takeover yesterday, with foreign ministers from China and five Mekong Delta countries exploring regional economic cooperation in the tourist town of Bagan.
The 7th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting saw China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet with counterparts from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The framework is a Chinese-led initiative that includes Mekong Delta nations and was formed in 2015, primarily for discussions pertaining to cooperation in infrastructure. It is named after Southeast Asia’s longest river, which in China is called Lancang.
According to a statement by China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Wang met Sunday with Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, who serves as ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar. The two held discussions on the situation in Myanmar on the sidelines of the meeting, with Wang stating that Beijing expects to work with ASEAN to encourage political reconciliation and adherence to rational consultation.
This must be achieved within the framework of Myanmar’s constitution and laws, according to Wang, along with a restart of the country’s democratic transition.
At the same time, Wang says China expects the 10-nation ASEAN bloc to abide by its principle of noninterference in member’s internal affairs.
“China supports the Myanmar people in exploring the development path that suits Myanmar’s own national conditions, and supports Myanmar in safeguarding its legitimate interests and national dignity in the international arena,” he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government, which opposes the ruling military council, denounced the Bagan conference, arguing that any such initiatives in partnership with Myanmar’s military violate the will of the people and harm community development.
It stated that holding the meeting in Myanmar is in direct opposition to a peace plan by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin prior to the meeting for bilateral discussions on trade and cooperation.
“China is ready to import more quality agricultural products from Myanmar, expand bilateral financial cooperation, and launch poverty reduction demonstration projects in Myanmar,” according to Foreign Minister Wang.
Myanmar will continue to support China’s stances on issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, and human rights, according to Myanmar’s Foreign Minister, who said the country is ready to work closely with China to further build a Myanmar-China community with a shared future.