Suu Kyi to make her first visit to China

Updated: 2015-06-06 07:07


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Suu Kyi to make her first visit to China

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo provided to China Daily.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to lead a delegation to China for the first time next week.

The visit comes amid strained ties between the two neighbors over conflicts near their border and months ahead of a general election in Myanmar.

Observers said the trip underlines the changes in both countries' policies, with Beijing engaging in exchanges with various sectors other than just the government, and the party headed by Suu Kyi expected to continue reaching out to Beijing if it wins the election.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will meet Suu Kyi, who heads Myanmar's National League for Democracy, during the trip from June 10 to 14, Nyan Win, the party's secretary and spokesman, told Reuters.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei hailed exchanges between China and various parties in Myanmar, saying he hoped such communication can be strengthened.

Fan Hongwei, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at Xiamen University, said stability in Myanmar and Chinese investment would be high on the agenda for Suu Kyi's visit.

Relations between the two countries were strained in March when a bomb dropped by a Myanmar warplane killed four people and injured nine others in Lincang, Yunnan province. Myanmar later apologized.

Xu Liping, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that after some setbacks, Beijing is "seeking an environment" for its investment in Myanmar.

Myanmar's reformist government has sought to reduce its heavy dependence on China since taking office in 2011 and has suspended a multibillion-dollar Chinese-led dam project. Ties have warmed recently, and both governments also signed more than a dozen cooperation deals last year.

Xu said whether Suu Kyi's party wins the November election or not, she has an undoubted influence on the country.

"China doesn't take sides in Myanmar's political struggle, but extends exchanges to it. The message from Suu Kyi to the world is that her party, if elected, will sustain traditional ties and upgrade cooperation with China."