Xi asks Suu Kyi to take long term view of China-Myanmar ties

Xi asks Suu Kyi to take long term view of China-Myanmar ties

Setting aside protocol, Chinese President Xi Jinping today met Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and asked her to take a long term view of the Sino-Myanmar ties which faced turbulence after the fall of the military junta which had close ties with the communist giant.

"China and Myanmar are close, friendly neighbours," Xi told 69-year-old Suu Kyi, who arrived here yesterday on a five-day visit, heading a delegation of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to open a "new dialogue" with the ruling Communist of Party of China (CPC).

"China always looks at the China-Myanmar relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective," Xi, the general secretary of the ruling Communist party said and asked Myanmar's political leaders to do the same regardless of domestic changes.

He proposed that the two sides continue to work together, and honour the bilateral friendship and cooperation, which observers said an apparent reference to the stalled USD 3.6 billion Chinese-led Myitsone dam project over environmental concerns.

"We hope and believe that the Myanmar side will also maintain a consistent stance on China-Myanmar relationship and be committed to advancing friendly ties, no matter how its domestic situation changes," he said.

Suu Kyi said her party valued ties with China and admires China's great development and achievements under CPC leadership.

This is the first time Suu Kyi, Myanmar's democracy champion and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, is visiting China after her release from house arrest in 2010 following 21 years of detention.

Both sides say it was a fence mending mission as Beijing backed the military rule.
Analysts say that her visit suggests China believes Suu Kyi or her party is likely to win Myanmar's upcoming Presidential election and and hopes to restore amicable bilateral ties through her.

Suu Kyi, who married a British national, may find it difficult to contest the election in view of the rule that citizens with foreign relatives were ineligible to contest the elections for Presidency. Suu Kyi's two sons hold British citizenship.

But Beijing is hedging its bets on a politically ascendant Suu Kyi, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted an analyst as saying.

Suu Kyi and her NLD's words have weight in Myanmar. Beijing would welcome her help, the Post report said.

Beijing appears to have accepted Suu Kyi despite her democratic credentials, signalling China's sense of urgency in fostering ties with the key contender in Myanmar's upcoming election, the Post report said.

Professor Fan Hongwei, from Xiamen University's Southeast Asian Studies Centre said, "Her prominence in Myanmar is irrefutable. The last thing Beijing wants is a change in the country's China policy to court the West."

She is set to meet Premier Li Keqiang and various other CPC leaders and officials during her trip and may visit Yunnan province close to Myanmar.

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