Chinese ambassador met with Aung San Suu Kyi

By Zhu Shanshan Source:Global Times Published: 2011-12-16 8:31:13

Chinese ambassador to Nay Pyi Taw and Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo:


The foreign ministry confirmed yesterday that the Chinese ambassador to Nay Pyi Taw has met with Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the first such contact in two decades.

Ambassador Li Junhua "met with Suu Kyi in response to her repeated requests to have a meeting with China, and the ambassador listened to her views," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters, without revealing the exact time and location of the meeting.

Pointing out China is always committed to developing Sino-Myanmar relations, Liu said Beijing supports Myanmar's efforts to promote economic and social development as well as domestic reconciliation.

"Based on the principle of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, China will engage in communication with all sectors of Myanmar society that support the China-Myanmar friendship," Liu said.

Suu Kyi's chief of staff, Khun Tha Myint, told Reuters the meeting happened on December 8 at the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate's residence and lasted just over one hour.

"The meeting went very well," he said. "It was very cordial and friendly."

Suu Kyi is the leader of Myanmar's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy. She was released from house arrest last year and her party was again granted status as a legal political party in the country.

In a previous interview with the Global Times earlier this year, Suu Kyi said Myanmar has always sought to have a good relationship with China.

"We look upon China as a friend and neighbor, and we want to prove ourselves to be a good friend and a good neighbor to them," Suu Kyi said then.

"I believe the Chinese government worries a lot about the stability in Myanmar. We would like to try to bring greater and more genuine stability to the country. It can be achieved only if there is the kind of system that is supported by the public."

Cheng Ruisheng, who served as Chinese ambassador to Myanmar from 1987 to 1991 and met Suu Kyi several times during his tenure, told the Global Times that China has always kept in touch with Myanmar's opposition party.

"Our stance at the time was to not interfere in the disputes in Myanmar's politics and to take a neutral stance. After recognizing the military government, we still kept contact with the opposition because it was an important political force in the country," Cheng said. "As long as the party is a legitimate one, there is no reason for us to avoid a meeting."

Song Qingrun, an analyst with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that, aside from keeping diplomatic relations with foreign governments, China often holds exchanges with foreign parties both in and out of power.

"With the principle of not intervening in the internal affairs of others, China develops inter-party relations only for further improving bilateral ties. It is just a method to expand the channels for communication," Song said.

The meeting between Li and Suu Kyi came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's three-day visit to Myanmar last month, which was the first such visit by a secretary of state in 50 years.

Clinton also met with Suu Kyi during the visit, which was seen by some western experts as a mission to ease China's influence in Myanmar.

"An improved relationship between Myanmar and Washington is in the interest of bilateral relations between China and the US," Cheng said.

"In the long term, the US will gradually lift its sanctions on Myanmar, which now heavily relies on China, ASEAN and India for trade. It may somewhat affect the relations between China and Myanmar, but the impact will be limited."

Meanwhile, China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo is set to visit Nay Pyi Taw next week to attend the 4th Summit of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program, the foreign ministry said.

During the meeting, leaders from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will sign agreements in sectors including tourism, agriculture and transportation, according to the ministry.

In October, Beijing called for consultation with Nay Pyi Taw over a suspended hydropower project in Myanmar, which was jointly funded by the China Power Investment Group, Myanmar's Ministry of Electric Power-1 and the local private Asia World Company.

Cheng said Myanmar residents are worried the project would damage the ecological environment, but disagreement over the project should be solved through negotiations, instead of a unilateral suspension order by Nay Pyi Taw.

Yang Jingjie and agencies contributed to this story

Posted in: Diplomacy

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