By THE IRRAWADDY
China will start construction this year on oil and gas pipelines more than 1,200 miles long from Kyaukpyu Port on the Bay of Bengal through Burma to southwest China.
The pipelines will pass through Kunming in Yunnan Province and continue through Guizhou Province to Chongqing municipality in southwest China.
Chinese state media reported that construction in Yunnan Province will start in the first half of the year as part of the 72 billion yuan (US $10.5 billion) energy project.
The project includes railway, road and waterway construction, as well as upgrading the port at Kyaukpyu in Arakan State. As part of the pipe line project, China has secured a 30-year deal from the junta for natural gas tapped off the Burmese coast.
Observers say that China will also use the pipelines for importing natural gas and oil from the Middle East and Africa, which currently supply 85 percent of China’s demand for oil, helping China to cut out oil shipping through the Malacca Strait.
Meanwhile, Li Changchun, a senior official of the Communist Party of China, met on Thursday with top Burmese officials in Naypyidaw during a visit to the military-ruled country.
Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, met with junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe, Prime Minister Thein Sein and first secretary of the junta, Tin Aung Myint Oo.
According to the Chinese official news agency Xinhua, Li suggested high-level exchanges between the two leaderships to increase mutual trust in the political area.
On economic cooperation, Li proposed to work together in key sectors, including projects in areas such as energy, transportation and telecommunication.
"China will continue to encourage competent enterprises to invest in Myanmar [Burma] or participate in your infrastructure construction," he said.
According to a statement released on the Chinese central government Web site, China and Burma also signed an agreement to work together to develop hydropower projects. It didn't provide details.