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Chinese medical aid programme helps #Myanmar children suffering from congenital heart diseases

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“I’m so grateful to China,” said Wutyee Tun, a 13-year-old Burmese girl who received treatment from a Chinese medical program aiming to saving Burmese children suffering from congenital heart disease, write Lin Rui and Wang Hui, People’s Daily.

The girl, who now has a chubby face and rosy cheeks, lives in a town of southern Yangon Region, capital of Myanmar. She was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a complicated heart disease when she was only one year old.

“I was so ill when I was little that I could hardly walk. Every time when I needed to go out my father had to carry me on his back,” said Wutyee Tun.

“Local hospitals are incapable of curing this disease, so we were confused and desperate,” U Myint Thein, the girl’s father told People's Daily, recalling the family’s misery back then.

The medical program from which Wutyee Tun received assistance was launched by China Charity Federation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2017. By cooperating with Yankin Children Hospital in Yangon Region, Chinese doctors examined more than 170 child patients, among which 36 have received surgeries in China’s Beijing Anzhen Hospital and Fuwai Yunnan Cardiovascular Hospital in three batches so far. Wutyee Tun's situation was the worst among the first batch of 12 Burmese child patients.

In April 2017, Wutyee Tun, accompanied by her father, arrived at Beijing Anzhen Hospital.

“The doctors made detailed treatment plan, and told us all the possible scenarios that could happen. With the efforts of the Chinese doctors, my daughter made it. Now, she is just as healthy as other children. Chinese doctors are really amazing,” said U Myint Thein.

“Now I’ve completely recovered from the disease. And my father smiled again - something that had disappeared in my family for a long time. China and the BRI are great,” said Wutyee Tun.

According to Dr. Myint Myint Khine, director of Yankin Children Hospital, there are more than 50,000 children with congenital heart diseases in Myanmar, but few of the hospitals in the country is able to treat them.

In order to cure every child patient they receive, the Chinese doctors have made painstaking endeavors and great efforts.

“We discuss treatment plans with Burmese doctors every day on WeChat,” said Duo Lin, head of the research department of chronic diseases in Fuwai Yunnan Cardiovascular Hospital.

“Some children not only suffered from congenital heart disease, but also other diseases, so we held group consultation with doctors from other departments. We share the same goal: to cure the children completely,” Duo said.

Thiri Ko is a 7-year-old Burmese girl living in a small village in suburban Yangon with her mother Daw Thandar Moe. Her father passed away years ago, and a small grocery store her mother runs is all the source of income for the family.

When she was 7-month-old, Thiri Ko was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Daw Thandar Moe had to choose only drug therapy for her daughter as the surgery was totally unaffordable for her. Seeing her daughter getting worse day by day, Daw Thandar Moe’s became distraught.

After receiving free treatment in Fuwai Yunnan Cardiovascular Hospital in Oct. 2018, Thiri Ko fully recovered.

“After my daughter was cured, the Chinese side also offered a loan to us to support my grocery store,” Daw Thandar Moe introduced.

The loan was offered by a supporting program providing economic assistance for the child patients' families. The program, launched at the end of 2019, was jointly operated by Kunming Yundi Behavior and Health Research Center and Myanmar Chinese Cooperation & Communication Center.

“We have customized plans for different families according to their demands. There are 11 families currently receiving our help,” said Li Bobo, executive chairman of Myanmar Chinese Cooperation & Communication Center.

“We hope to try our best to help those Burmese families overwhelmed by the diseases. This is a natural decision driven by the friendship between the people of China and Myanmar,” noted Li.

“I’m so happy to see the children recover, not to mention the economic assistance the Chinese side has offered. Such good deeds deserve our respect. The seeds of friendship have been planted in our hearts. May China-Myanmar ‘Phauphaw’ (fraternal) friendship be carried on from generation to generation,” said Dr. Myint Myint Khine.

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The billion-dollar disaster - China's influence in Montenegro

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Montenegro is building its first-ever motorway. Due to a huge loan scandal, it’s now become the country’s highway to hell. 40 bridges and 90 tunnels are expected to be built and financed by the Chinese. However, the project has been hit by corruption allegations, construction delays and environmental tragedies. Today, out of the planned 170 kilometres, just 40 have been completed, writes Juris Paiders.

The motorway is one of the most expensive in the world. It's financed by a loan from China loan. Paying back this money is creating problems. The story starts with Montenegro's former Prime Minister and current President, Milo Dukanović. He conceived the motorway to boost trade in the small Balkan country.

However, lacking funds to start construction, he accepted a billion-dollar loan from China in 2014. Other investors didn't want to get involved. Prior to this, French and American feasibility studies highlighted the risks of such an oversized project. The European Investment Bank and the IMF also announced that it was a bad idea.

Now, with the pandemic crushing Montenegro’s tourism-dependent economy, the country is struggling to find a way to finance the missing stretches of road.

The motorway should link Bar Harbor in the south to the border with Serbia in the north. The first section was scheduled to be finished in 2020, but it still isn't.

Politicians promised that the motorway contraction will boost employment in Montenegro. However, the Chinese contractor brought in its own workers, with no contracts or social security contributions.

An NGO backed by the EU is investigating corruption allegations involving subcontractors. Out of the huge loan from China, 400 million Euros were given to subcontractors, which some of them are linked with President.

In Montenegro people are hoping that there will be justice and someone should pay for this ambitious constructions plan. However, some fear that China has its eyes on Bar's deep-water harbor. When signing the billion-dollar-loan with China, Montenegro agreed to some strange terms, like giving up sovereignty of certain parts of the land in the case of financial problems. Arbitration in this scenario would take place in China using Chinese laws.

A long-term harbor concession would fit nicely into China’s “Belt-and-Road-Initiative”, a global infrastructure project to access markets. Harbor authorities in Bar are already hoping for an economic upturn and have plans for two new terminals.

The Chinese-managed motorway isn’t just mired in cronyism allegations; it’s also accused of damaging the protected Tara river valley. The ecology group 'Green Home', after several monitoring of Tara River, has concluded that impact of incompetent construction on river is disastrous. Sediment from the construction site is trickling into the water, preventing the fish from spawning.

Chinese managers have been accused of ignoring basic EU standards and Montenegro is criticized for failing to supervise construction correctly. Rubble has changed the Tara riverbed, perhaps irreparably.

Environmental experts proposed alternative layouts of the motorway that would have avoided the Tara valley, but they were ignored.

The river Tara is UNESCO protected and it should be forbidden to gravel the soil and sand, but this is happening there because of the construction work.

All over the Western Balkans, Chinese investment has slowed down EU compatible reforms. China’s silk road ambitions are not always in line with EU standards of good governance, environmental protection, rule of law and transparency. Their influence is creating a wedge between the EU and the Balkan states.

The opinions expressed in the above article are those of the author alone, and do not reflect any opinion on the part of EU Reporter.

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EU-China investment deal stalls

Catherine Feore

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European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis confirms that progress on the investment deal with China has stalled following March sanctions.

The EU concluded what Dombrovskis describes as an “asymmetric deal” with China at the end of last year. Known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), it was presented on 30 December. 

Today (5 May) he said: ”There are substantially more new commitments from China as regards market access, with regards to the level playing field and this is something that European companies have been asking us for for many years. So as regards the agreement itself, that technical work is ongoing to prepare the ground for ratification.”

At the time of the agreement Dombrovskis said: “This deal will give European businesses a major boost in one of the world's biggest and fastest-growing markets, helping them to operate and compete in China. It also anchors our values-based trade agenda with one of our largest trading partners. We have secured binding commitments on the environment, climate change and combatting forced labour. We will engage closely with China to ensure that all commitments are honoured fully.”

Wider political context

When asked about whether the deal had been suspended, Dombrovskis said that the position of the European Commission has not changed. He said that the “ratification process of comprehensive agreement on investment cannot be separated from the wider political context. I will repeat that the ratification process cannot be separated from evolving dynamics of the wider EU-China relationship. And in this context, Chinese sanctions targeting among others members of European Parliament and even an entire parliamentary subcommittee are unacceptable and regrettable, and prospects and next steps concerning ratification on comprehensive agreement of investment will depend on how the situation evolves.”

The Commission faced much criticism when the agreement was reached, by appearing to move ahead of the United States, before the new administration had taken office. It was felt by some that the EU should wait to see if there was the possibility of finding common cause with the new Biden team. 

There were also accusations that the EU was ignoring China’s human rights record, particularly in relation to the treatment of the Uyghur muslim population in Xianjang province and the crackdown on the democracy protesters and the introduction of the national security law in Hong Kong.

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G7 to discuss decisive action to counter threats like Russia and China

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Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab meets with Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Kent, Britain May 3, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson/Pool
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks at a news conference following a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in London, Britain May 3, 2021 during the G7 foreign ministers meeting. Chris J Ratcliffe/Pool via REUTERS
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a news conference with India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar following a bilateral meeting in London, Britain May 3, 2021 during the G7 foreign ministers meeting. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

Britain on Tuesday (4 May) sought to agree decisive action from G7 partners to protect democracies against global threats like those posed by China and Russia.

Hosting the second day of a foreign ministers' meeting in London designed to lay the groundwork for a leaders' summit in June, Dominic Raab (pictured) will lead talks among the Group of Seven wealthy nations on threats to democracy, freedoms and human rights.

"The UK’s presidency of the G7 is an opportunity to bring together open, democratic societies and demonstrate unity at a time when it is much needed to tackle shared challenges and rising threats," Raab said in a statement.

In addition to the G7 members Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, Britain has also invited ministers from Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea this week.

Their first face-to-face meeting in two years is seen by Britain as a chance to reinforce support for the rules-based international system at a time when it says China's economic influence and Russian malign activity threaten to undermine it.

On Monday (3 May), having met with Raab, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a need to try to forge a global alliance of freedom loving countries, though stressed he did not want to hold China down, but make sure it played by the rules. Read more

Tuesday's discussion also covered the coup in Myanmar, urging stronger action against the military junta in the form of expanded sanctions, support for arms embargoes and more humanitarian assistance.

In the afternoon talks will turn to Russia, including how to respond to a troop manoeuvres on the border with Ukraine and the imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Raab said on Sunday he wanted the G7 to consider a joint rebuttal unit to tackle Russian disinformation and propaganda. Read more

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