Free Press Journal

China gears up to welcome Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi


Beijing: Ahead of Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s maiden visit to China next week, Chinese official media today sought to mend bilateral ties in the wake of tensions on the international border, saying Beijing bears no grudge over past unpleasantness.

“China welcomes anyone with friendly intentions and it bears no grudge for past unpleasantness,” state-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Suu Kyi’s visit in an apparent reference to Chinese backing of the Myanmar military junta which kept her under house arrest for about 21 years making her one of the most prominent political prisoners.

Describing Suu Kyi, 69, as a “renowned politician in Myanmar and beyond,” Xinhua said China hopes her five-day visit staring from June 10 will “enhance mutual understanding and promote cooperation and friendly relations between China and Myanmar”.

She will be visiting China on the invitation of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC). “The invitation extended to Suu Kyi is proof that the CPC stands ready to engage with any political party as long as they are willing to promote the sound development of relations with China,” it said, acknowledging that China-Myanmar relations “since 2010 have witnessed some disturbances, with several key cooperation projects, including a water dam and a copper mine, being brought to a standstill”.

While Myanmar under junta relied on Beijing for economic and diplomatic support when it was under Western sanctions before embarking on political reforms four years ago, the Myanmar reform process made Beijing nervous as the government that replaced the military junta appeared to be courting US and India.

The shift in relations was highlighted in 2011 when Myanmar President Thein Sein suspended work on the USD 3.6 billion Chinese-led Myitsone dam project over environmental concerns.

“As an important politician in Myanmar, Suu Kyi must have a very thorough understanding of the special bond between the two countries, as shown by the famous comparison she drew: not like married couples who could always get a divorce if they do not get along, nothing can be done to change the fact that China and Myanmar are each other’s neighbour,” it said.

Also her visit comes at a time when China-Myanmar relations are experiencing border tensions over Myanmar crackdown on Kokang rebels prompting Beijing to conduct live military drills near the border.

“There is also a reminder: China has no intention to interfere in Myanmar’s internal affairs, but is determined to protect its citizens from being caught in war launched from the other side of the border,” it said, referring to an incident in which five Chinese people were killed in bombing of rebels by Myanmar plane in the border region.

“Myanmar has to honour its commitment to safeguarding the security and stability on the China-Myanmar border,” the commentary added.