Myanmar, China Sign Multiple Cooperation, Infrastructure Agreements  To Strengthen Bilateral TiesChinese President Xi Jinping With Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (Pic Via Twitter)

Myanmar and China on Saturday (18 January) signed dozens of cooperation and infrastructure agreements aimed at strengthening their bilateral ties during Chinese President Xi Jinping's historic visit to the neighbouring country.

Xi met Myanmar's de facto leader, state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for the second day of his two-day trip - the first by a Chinese head of State in 19 years - seeking to boost his Belt and Road Initiative, reports Efe news.

Xi and Suu Kyi inked 33 agreements, protocols and memoranda of understanding that underlined China's backing of the Myanmar government.

The deals include plans to accelerate the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a project which involves billions of dollars in infrastructure spending that would provide Beijing with a direct link to the Indian Ocean through railways.

In addition, the two leaders agreed to set up a special economic zone on their mutual border and to promote urban development in the Southeast Asian country's biggest city, Yangon.

Suu Kyi and Xi also signed a memorandum of understanding for the building of a deep seaport in Rakhine, as well as bolstering cooperation in the security and agri-food sectors.

Xi's trip comes at a time when Suu Kyi's government has been facing diplomatic isolation from the West and the Islamic world due to its handling of the Rohingya crisis over the past few years.

The state Counsellor, who is set to face re-election this year, has rejected accusations of genocide and defended the army's actions in the western state of Rakhine, from which more than 700,000 members of the Rohingya ethnic minority fled to Bangladesh due to the military operations targeting them.

China is one of the few countries that has not condemned the army crackdown against the Muslim-majority group and has supported its neighbour on the international stage as it faced allegations by the UN that its persecution of the Rohingya people was carried out with "genocidal intent".

According to the World Bank, China is the second-biggest investor in Myanmar, behind only Singapore. It is also, by far, Myanmar's largest trading partner.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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