January 25, 2010 / 12:11 AM / 10 years ago

Factbox: Five facts about China-Myanmar relations

(Reuters) - Here are five facts about the complex relationship between China and Myanmar:

* Burma, as the country was then known, was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1949. But relations soured in the 1960s following anti-Chinese riots in Rangoon (now called Yangon).

* Following a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters across the country in 1988, the West imposed broad sanctions on Myanmar. China stepped into the void, providing aid and weapons and ramping up trade. China has continued to provide broad diplomatic support for Myanmar’s military government.

* China has invested more than $1 billion in Myanmar, primarily in the mining sector, and is the country’s fourth largest foreign investor, state media say. Bilateral trade grew more than one-quarter in 2008 to about $2.63 billion. Chinese firms are also heavily involved in logging in Myanmar.

* Myanmar gives China access to the Indian Ocean, not only for imports of oil and gas and exports from landlocked southwestern Chinese provinces, but also potentially for military bases or listening posts.

In October, China’s CNPC started building a crude oil port in Myanmar, part of a pipeline project aimed at cutting out the long detour oil cargoes take through the congested and strategically vulnerable Malacca Strait.

* The relationship has had rocky patches of late. In August, refugees flooded across into China following fighting on the Myanmar side of the border, angering Beijing.

In 2007, China’s Foreign Ministry published an unflattering account of Myanmar’s new jungle capital Naypyidaw, expressing surprise that the poor country would consider such an expensive move without even first telling its supposed Chinese friends.

Writing by Ben Blanchard; editing by Megan Goldin

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