His Excellency Mr. Hong Liang, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar, presented his credentials to President U Thein Sein on July 29, 2015. Ambassador Hong was deputy director general for the Department of Asian Affairs, under China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before becoming ambassador. He has also served in Malaysia and Australia. On March 4, he hosted a question and answer session at his residence in Yangon.
What are China’s economic development priorities in Myanmar?
Cooperation between China and Myanmar will benefit the people in Myanmar. We are planning to better develop transportation between Yunnan and Myanmar, and have already spoken with Myanmar businesspeople regarding this.
Transportation and infrastructure are still lacking. For example, transferring products to and from China, it takes too long to export and import, and that is why businesspeople think it is not benefitting them. The infrastructure should be improved in the future. If we can improve the situation for importing and exporting to China, then the business will develop.
The Myitsone Dam has been one of the most controversial Chinese projects in Myanmar. What is China’s position regarding this?
There are different perspectives about these kinds of projects, not only Myanmar and China but around the world. People have different perspectives but we have to think about whether or not it will bring benefits to people around the country.
The Chinese government will discuss with people what the benefits of this project are to the local people and will discuss with local stakeholders and the next government.
People need to think about sustainable development, not whether or not they will suspend the Myitsone Dam.
In the past in Myanmar, China took a government-to-government approach. Has that situation changed with the new government?
Yes it is true that we had a government-to-government approach in the past, because that was the situation at the time.
The Myanmar political landscape depends on the trends of the people in Myanmar. We want to have a friendly relationship with the new government and are working closely with this new government. China wants a peaceful existence with Myanmar.
China was always against the sanctions [under military rule] and wanted to stop them in order to bring benefits to the country. We never supported sanctions.
The country was under dictatorship for years and now the Myanmar have decided the government they want.
In the future, we want to work with local communities, so we are thinking more about community development and social welfare.
Is China concerned about projects being cancelled under the new government, like what happened in the past?
I hope this kind of situation won’t happen. It is important that people recognise the benefits that hydropower projects can bring.
Water management systems are important in Myanmar to keep the water in rainy season and then share this water in winter. This kind of management is what Myanmar needs.