YANGON, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Myanmar will cement China-Myanmar "Paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai has said.
Xi's state visit to Myanmar from Friday to Saturday is of great significance to China-Myanmar relations, Chen said in an interview with Xinhua, adding that the two countries will continue to maintain high-level political mutual trust, in-depth economic cooperation, close coordination on international and regional affairs, and robust people-to-people exchanges.
Since the establishment of their diplomatic relations 70 years ago, the two countries, as friendly neighbors, have constantly developed ties on the basis of mutual respect, trust and assistance and established a model of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries of different sizes, Chen said.
Leaders of the two countries have reached consensuses on the joint construction of the Belt and Road and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, Chen said.
Myanmar's government has established a steering committee chaired by state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to implement the tasks related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which showcases the country's resolution to participate in the BRI, Chen said.
With joint efforts from the two sides, the BRI and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor will become a road to peace and development and bring benefits to the two peoples, Chen said.
With bilateral economic cooperation continuously strengthened, China has been Myanmar's largest trading partner and important source of foreign capital for years.
In the first nine months of 2019, the trade volume between China and Myanmar stood at 13.54 billion U.S. dollars, up 17.9 percent year-on-year. Chinese enterprises invested 150 million dollars in Myanmar and signed new project contracts worth 4.77 billion dollars, up 238.1 percent from a year ago.
In addition, China attaches great significance to and encourages people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, Chen said.
China has become Myanmar's largest source of foreign tourists and there are more than 150 direct flights between the two countries every week, a figure seven times larger than three years ago, Chen said.
Noting that Chinese films and TV series have become hits in Myanmar, including "A Dream of Red Mansions," Chen said the people from both countries maintain mutual exchanges.
Chen said China has built projects to improve the wellbeing of Myanmar people during the past years.
The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar has built 23 China-Myanmar friendship schools in major regions and states. Daw Khin Kyi Women Hospital and Natmauk General Hospital were renovated by China in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
Chinese doctors conducted more than 6,000 cases of cataract surgery for free in Myanmar under the "Bright Journey" program over the past three years.
The program was jointly organized by China's Yunnan Provincial People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Myanmar's Sitagu Shwe Pyi Hein Eye Hospital and Visakha Foundation.
China welcomes students from all over the world, in particular those from Myanmar and other countries and regions along the Belt and Road. In 2019, more than 700 people from Myanmar applied for scholarships awarded by the Chinese government, up from 600 in 2018, Chen said.
China and Myanmar will continue to support each other on issues involving each other's core interests and major concerns, strengthen coordination and cooperation within multilateral frameworks, such as the United Nations, the China-ASEAN and the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanisms, and jointly safeguard and promote peace and development in the region and beyond, Chen said.
In regard of the upcoming meeting between leaders of the two countries, Chen said China and Myanmar will take Xi's visit as an opportunity to open a new chapter of bilateral relations.
Efforts will be made to enhance the synergy of the two countries' development strategies and strive for progress in major economic cooperation projects, Chen said, adding that both countries will witness the signing of a series of cooperation documents during the visit.
It is believed that Xi's visit at the beginning of the new year will be successful and mark a new milestone in the history of China-Myanmar relations, Chen said.