China, Myanmar ink $10.1 billion in deals: State media

China, Myanmar ink $10.1 billion in deals: State media

BEIJING - China has signed agreements worth $7.8 billion (S$10.1 billion) with neighbouring Myanmar, state media reported Saturday, as Beijing continues to assert its growing economic clout in Southeast Asia.

Deals overseen by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar President Thein Sein on Friday included agreements to build power plants fuelled by natural gas, the state-run China Daily reported.

Beijing was a key backer of Myanmar's military junta while it was under Western sanctions, but Thein Sein has increased ties with other countries including the United States since launching political reforms in 2011.

In a surprise move Thein Sein in 2012 ordered work on the huge $3.6-billion Chinese-backed Myitsone Dam to stop after local protests, sparking anger in Beijing.

The two countries agreed to establish an "electricity cooperation committee", to keep future projects from meeting a similar fate, the China Daily said.

Other agreements inked include $300 million in loans to the agricultural sector, and others touching on telecommunications and finance, it said.

Li and Thein Sein met on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw, where China offered $20 billion in loans to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The offer was seen as an attempt to cool tensions with several ASEAN nations who are locked in territorial disputes with Beijing over the South China Sea.

In 2013 trade between China and Myanmar amounted to $10.15 billion, according to Chinese statistics.

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