China-ASEAN Monitor: Hundreds of tonnes of corn discarded at Myanmar-China border every day
Economy, Investment and Trade
Hundreds of tonnes of corn discarded at Myanmar-China border every day
(11 May 2020) An estimated 100 tonnes of corn is being thrown daily into Myanmar’s Shweli River after exports to China were suspended along the Namkham-Muse gates in Shan State, residents told a local news daily. Trade at the Muse border town, which had resumed after weeks of suspension earlier this year, has once again come to a standstill after a resident tested positive for COVID-19. According to a representative from the Muse Fruit Wholesale Centre, the sweet corn only lasts three days and are being thrown as they are not allowed to enter China after being harvested. A resident of Namkhan said that recently Chinese police and military have detained at least 30 such trucks carrying corn due to heightened security and the number is rising. A local farmer said that the amount of loss incurred is between US$2,130 and US$2,800 per acre. The Muse district management committee and border traders are now in negotiations with the Chinese authorities in an effort to obtain official permission for corn exports.
China pushes for BRI projects inclusion in Myanmar’s economic relief plan
(7 May 2020) Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai and Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Planning, Finance and Industry U Set Aung met for a discussion on 6 May where topics discussed included the implementation of Beijing’s key infrastructure projects in Myanmar. The two sides discussed how to move forward on the development of China’s ambitious projects in Myanmar based on the Myanmar government’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP). The projects discussed included New Yangon City, Kyaukphyu Deep-Sea Port and Industrial Zone, and the China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone. According to Daw Khin Khin Kyaw Kyee, head of the China desk at the Institute for Strategy and Policy (ISP), the three projects constituted the main agenda when Chinese President Xi Jinping came to Myanmar in January. The projects were branded as the three pillars of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), itself a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The Philippines to seek joint exploration talks with China
(11 May 2020) Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi wants to further discuss joint exploration efforts in the West Philippine Sea with his Chinese counterparts once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted. A meeting between the Department of Energy and its Chinese counterpart that was supposed to take place earlier this year had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cusi said there could potentially be a meeting once the quarantine ends but there were no specific details yet on when and where the meeting would take place. Officials from both countries last held a meeting on joint exploration in December 2019. The joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea follows the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese president Xi Jinping in November 2018.
AIIB to provide US$1 billion-loan for Indonesia’s COVID-19 response
(10 May 2020) The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will allocate a total of US$1 billion in loans in two disbursements to help Indonesia in its COVID-19 response. The first disbursement, worth US$250 million, will be part of a co-financing programme with the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank to provide a total of US$750 million in loans. The second disbursement will be a loan worth US$750 million to fund Indonesia’s economic relief and social safety net programmes, as part of a co-financing programme with the Asian Development Bank, which has committed to provide US$1.5 billion for the country. With the number of its COVID-19 cases exceeding 13,000 as of 8 May, Indonesia requested the loans to finance its efforts to strengthen hospital readiness, pandemic response and testing capacity. The AIIB forecasted that the Indonesian economy would grow by less than 1% in 2020 before recovering in 2021, down from its earlier projection of 6%.
Cambodian king thanks China for its support in COVID-19 fight
(11 May 2020) Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni expressed his gratitude to China for its support in aiding the kingdom’s fight against COVID-19. The king and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk were in China for a routine medical check-up and treatment in Beijing. Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi paid a courtesy call to the king on 8 May on behalf of Chinese President Xi Jinping. King Sihamoni thanked China for supporting Cambodia’s battle against COVID-19 and expressed readiness to increase bilateral experience sharing to better protect people’s lives and safety. A statement said the two sides are working for a China-Cambodia community with a shared future based on a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.