Xi arrives in Myanmar, to push deals worth billions - RTHK
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Xi arrives in Myanmar, to push deals worth billions

2020-01-17 HKT 18:57
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  • Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi shakes hands with President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw. Photo: AP
    Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi shakes hands with President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw. Photo: AP
  • The convoy carrying President Xi Jinping leaves the Naypyidaw airport. Photo: AFP
    The convoy carrying President Xi Jinping leaves the Naypyidaw airport. Photo: AFP
President Xi Jinping touched down in Myanmar's capital on Friday on a state visit aimed at buttressing the embattled government of Aung San Suu Kyi and driving through multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deals.

The wide highways and manicured lawns of Naypyidaw, purpose-built by generals under Myanmar's junta, were dotted with red banners bearing Xi's face and greetings in Burmese and Mandarin.

Xi will sign a series of mammoth infrastructure deals as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

The centrepiece of the so-called China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) is a US$1.3 billion deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu in central Rakhine state, giving Beijing a gateway to the Indian Ocean.

A high-speed rail link is on the cards to connect the port and nearby planned industrial zone with the countries' shared border.

After a welcome ceremony and dinner on Friday, Xi will sit down with Suu Kyi and army chief Min Aung Hlaing in separate meetings on Saturday.

Suu Kyi made a rare visit to Kachin state on the border with China ahead of Xi's visit.

Economic interests aside, Myanmar's relationship with the superpower has other benefits.

In an op-ed in Myanmar's state-run media this week, Xi said China supports Myanmar in "safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests and national dignity".

China shields Myanmar at the United Nations, where pressure is mounting for accountability over the Rohingya crisis. (AFP)