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China to welcome democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi as ‘head of state’

world Updated: Aug 12, 2016 21:53 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

File photo of Myanmar’s foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi at a news conference in Naypyitaw in April.(Reuters)

China is a preparing a welcome befitting a head of government for Aung San Suu Kyi, democracy icon and Myanmar’s first state counsellor, when she reaches Beijing next week.

During her four-day visit beginning on August 17, Suu Kyi will meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, reports said. 

Since becoming Myanmar’s first state counsellor after the new government was formed in March, this will be the third country that Suu Kyi is visiting, after Laos and Thailand. 

She was in China last year as leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in a high-profile visit. 

Suu Kyi is also Myanmar’s foreign minister and is considered key to the gradual transformation of her country as it opens up to the world. 

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that during the visit, which comes about a month ahead of her trip to the US, economic cooperation will be at the top of the agenda. 

“Myanmar’s government released a long-awaited but vague economic policy paper last month, pledging support for agriculture, industry and infrastructure development. But there were few details on how it will boost the nation’s economy,” the report said. 

According to state-controlled tabloid Global Times, Suu Kyi has calibrated her stance on China over the years. 

“Suu Kyi used to be the most intense critic of the Myanmese junta, and she also raised objections to Chinese investment projects during that time. But since she was elected as a member of the House of Representatives, Suu Kyi has started to recalibrate her policy, stating on many occasions that she expects an improvement in Myanmar-China relations. In media interviews, Suu Kyi also expressed her expectation for a visit to China in an official capacity,” the newspaper said in a comment piece.