18 January 2020
XI GREETED WITH GUSTO IN MYANMAR
China is willing to consolidate and deepen its pauk-phaw friendship with Myanmar and jointly build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future, visiting President Xi Jinping said on Friday in Nay Pyi Taw.
Xi made the remarks in a meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi after a grand welcoming ceremony hosted by his Myanmar counterpart, President U Win Myint, at the country's presidential palace. The two leaders agreed to hold talks on Saturday to exchange views about bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern.
During the meeting, Xi thanked the Myanmar government and the people for their warm welcome and said China firmly supports Myanmar in pursuing a development path it chooses on its own.
The state counsellor described Xi's visit as "long expected" by Myanmar, and said it has special importance as the two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
Saying Myanmar highly appreciates and values China's strong support, she said the pauk-phaw friendship between the two countries has been tested by time, and only they themselves understand the essence of the relationship.
China has been Myanmar's good friend, Aung San Suu Kyi said, and her country stands ready to work with China to build a community with a shared future. She added that Xi's visit will move forward bilateral ties to achieve new development.
On Friday, Xi also held talks with U Win Myint and attended a welcoming banquet hosted by him.
The visit is Xi's first overseas trip this year and is the first visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president after an interval of 19 years. The visit hit the headlines of Myanmar's media and was hailed by local people as a historic trip to consolidate the traditional friendship and intensify bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The English language newspaper Myanmar Times reported on Friday that the Chinese leader's visit is seen as an attempt to further establish bilateral relations and push ahead the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor concept, as well as other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Hla Kyaw Zaw, an observer of Myanmar-China relations based in Yangon, said Xi's decision to make his first overseas trip of the year to Myanmar demonstrates the importance China attaches to its relationship with the member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Zaw Lin Oo, a Yangon resident, said he heard news that Myanmar and China will sign a number of cooperation agreements during Xi's visit. He expressed hope that the visit will help strengthen bilateral economic collaboration and create more opportunities for young people like him.
May Myat Noe Thu, who worked for the local branch of Yunnan Yuntianhua Co in Myanmar, said this is a good opportunity for Myanmar to be involved in the BRI and boost its development. She said she hopes China will assist in the country's peace process.
PALACE MUSEUM APOLOGIZES FOR DERELICTION OF DUTY ON CAR-DRIVING BAN VIOLATION
The Palace Museum apologized late Friday for oversight that made possible the car driving by a woman inside the Forbidden City, according to its official Weibo account.
The driving action came to light due to four pictures showcasing an off-road vehicle parking in the corner of the square in front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihemen). The pictures, shown to be shot on Monday, the museum's scheduled closure day, were posted by the woman driver on Sina Weibo and triggered intense outrage among Chinese netizens.
Some netizens demanded further investigations into the incident and punishment while others expressed disappointment at the museum management for failing to well protect the site of the world cultural heritage.
The car-driving ban in the Palace Museum was put in place in 2013 during Shan Jixiang's tenure as curator of the Palace Museum. He explained that it was a matter of cultural dignity as car driving was also forbidden in the Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom and the Versailles Palace in France.
On April 26, 2013, when the then French President Francois Hollande visited the Forbidden City with his girlfriend, their motorcade was stopped from entering the Meridian Gate, the entrance of the Forbidden City. So he had to get off his car and got inside on foot.
This year marks the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City, also the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Palace Museum.
MYANMAR SEES MORE TOURISTS FROM CHINA
Myanmar is attracting more and more Chinese tourists to explore the ancient cultural heritage and natural beauty in this neighboring country.
The Southeast Asian nation received 523,499 Chinese visitors from January to September last year, a year-on-year increase of 164 percent, according to figures from the country's Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, which were quoted by Myanmar's Eleven Media Group.
Now China has become Myanmar's largest source of foreign tourists with the biggest increase in tourist numbers.
Peng Liang, a researcher with the big data lab of Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency, said package tours are the choice of 80 percent of Chinese travelers to Myanmar.
According to Peng, attractions popular with Chinese tourists include the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar; Mandalay Palace, the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarch, U Bein Bridge; and Ngwe Saung Beach.
Wendy Min enjoyed her trip to the country in 2013, during which she visited cities including Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay.
"The travel sites, local people and their hospitality really made me fall in love with the country," she said, "and I really want to visit again if I have a chance".
Travel to Myanmar from China has boomed especially in the past two years partly due to eased visa regulations and the growth in direct flights between the two countries.
Starting from Oct 1, 2018, the Myanmar government introduced a trial policy that grants visas on arrival to Chinese visitors with ordinary passports. In September, the policy was extended to Sept 30 this year.
Currently, China tops the list of international airlines in Myanmar, with flights by 13 Chinese airlines between Chinese cities and Yangon, Eleven Media Group reported.
There are more than 150 direct flights between the two countries every month, a figure seven times larger than three years ago.
A new direct flight line between Haikou in Hainan province to Yangon was opened on Tuesday night, bringing 171 passengers for a sightseeing tour of Myanmar.
Myanmar's Ambassador to China U Myo Thant Pe said his country is expecting the number of Chinese tourists to reach nearly 2 million this year.
According to the ambassador, Myanmar enjoys beautiful natural scenery, a time-honored history and culture and hospitable people.
"We sincerely welcome Chinese friends to visit Myanmar. This will help to constantly deepen people-to-people communications between the two countries," he said.
Chen Hai, China's ambassador to Myanmar, told Xinhua News Agency that the two countries will further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in social and cultural fields through the combination of culture and tourism, thus facilitating mutual understanding and friendship between their peoples.
US TO SCREEN PASSENGERS FOR CHINA CORONAVIRUS AT THREE AIRPORTS
The United States will begin screening at three major airports people coming from the central Chinese city of Wuhan for the newly identified coronavirus that has killed one person and infected at least 40 more in China, public health officials said Friday.
About 100 experts from the CDC are being deployed to the three airports. The first flight to be screened will arrive at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on Friday night, Dr Martin Cetron, director of the CDC's division of global migration and quarantine, said.
JFK is the only airport in New York where the screening will take place. Screening at San Francisco International and Los Angeles International will begin on Saturday.
The disease is caused by a coronavirus, a member of a family of viruses that can cause respiratory ailments ranging from colds to pneumonia.
Most people with the disease are believed to have contracted it from exposure to animals at a market that sells seafood and meat in Wuhan, and it isn't certain that the virus spreads from person to person. But a few cases have not been linked to animals, and researchers say some human-to-human transmission may be possible, so precautions are necessary.
The risk from the coronavirus to Americans is deemed to be low, the CDC said. "But the earlier we detect, the better we can protect," Cetron said.
THE CDC is doing the screening after travelers from Wuhan recently arrived in Thailand and Japan infected with the new virus. There have been two cases in Thailand and one in Japan.
"Considering global travel patterns, additional cases in other countries are likely," the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
Last year, more than 60,000 passengers flew into the United States from the city of Wuhan, 700 miles south of Beijing. The vast majority flew into the three airports where the checks will take place, according to the CDC.
January is the peak travel season from China to the United States because of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Cetron said.
While the US State Department has issued a health alert update about travel to the Wuhan region, the CDC has urged citizens traveling in the region to avoid contact with animals, animal markets or animal products, among other precautions.
Travelers arriving at the three airports in the US will be asked to fill out questionnaires asking if they have symptoms like cough or fever, and whether they have visited meat or seafood markets in Wuhan.
Screeners will also use thermal scanners that can be pointed at the forehead or temple to check for fever. People with signs of the illness will be examined further, and those who seem likely to be infected will be sent on to area hospitals for further testing. Cetron declined to say which hospitals they would be sent to.
PRESIDENT SAYS MUTUAL LEARNING WILL BE OF BENEFIT
China and Myanmar should strengthen mutual learning about each other's civilizations and consolidate their bilateral friendship through jointly hosting a number of celebratory events, President Xi Jinping said on Friday on the first day of his state visit to Myanmar.
He made the remarks during a speech at the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism held in the country's capital.
The launching ceremony is an important event that marks the glorious history of friendly communications between the two countries, Xi said, adding that the China-Myanmar friendship is thousands of years old.
The two sides will host a string of events this year to expand exchanges and cooperation on education, religion, media, movies and television. The events are expected to help strengthen public support for China-Myanmar friendship, thus cementing and re-energizing the pauk-phaw friendship, Xi said.
In the local language, pauk-phaw refers to siblings from the same mother. It is a description of the fraternal sentiments between the people of the two countries, whose close ties reach to ancient times.
Noting that China will secure victory on its path of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year, Xi said the two countries should enhance practical cooperation to bring more benefits to the people in the new era.
He said uneven and unfair issues remain in international affairs, and China and Myanmar should make joint efforts to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Accompanied by Myanmar President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Xi visited a photo exhibition celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations before the launching ceremony. The leaders watched a performance by artists of the two countries after the ceremony.
In a statement delivered upon his arrival at Nay Pyi Taw International Airport on Friday afternoon, Xi called China and Myanmar friendly neighbors that are linked by the same mountains and rivers.
PREMIER: CHINA HAS CONFIDENCE IN MEETING ECONOMIC CHALLENGES
China has the confidence and the ability to meet challenges this year to keep its economy in the proper range and to make continued social progress, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday in Beijing when meeting with foreign experts working in China.
Last year, China's economy maintained growth of 6.1 percent, which came on top of a very large base and despite a complex global environment featuring significant downward pressure on the global economy, Li said.
"The achievements have not come easily," Li told a number of expats from countries including Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, the United States and France.
Noting that China pursues its development in an open environment and China's development needs a peaceful international environment, Li said China will always be a staunch force for globalization and seek win-win results in cooperation with all countries during further opening-up.
According to the premier, as China transforms its economic development, it must pursue innovation-driven development, a process that needs the power of science, technology and talent.
Though China has the world's largest number of people who have received higher education or acquired professional skills−170 million−Li noted that there is still a big gap between China and developed countries in terms of the capacity of talent in science and technology.
Li said that the Chinese government gives great importance to the development of education and science and technology as they are the most important underpinning forces for China's future.
China will continue to expand opening-up in these areas and its cooperation with foreign countries and partners in such areas will only expand, he said.
Jeffrey S. Lehman, who attended the meeting on Friday, is vice-chancellor of NYU Shanghai, the first China-US joint university.
According to Lehman, the university has achieved good results in helping top students from China and overseas maximize their capacities for innovation and to work effectively in multicultural teams over the past years.
"I love being part of this effort, which I hope will bring benefits to China and to the world of higher education," he said.
During the meeting, speakers shared their suggestions on basic science, science and technology innovation, talent training, cultural exchanges as well as the development of the finance and energy industries.
"We see great value in every piece of intellectual support and suggestion from each and every foreign expert working in China and they all deserve very close and high attention," the premier said.