Myanmar Prez to head to India after San Suu Kyi charms China

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Aug 18, 2016 21:57 IST
Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (left) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talk during a signing of agreements ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. (Reuters)

Maintaining a delicate diplomatic balance between Myanmar’s two giant neighbours, President Htin Kyaw will head to India days after State Counsellor and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s five-day visit to China.

Suu Kyi arrived in Beijing on Wednesday night to talk about reviving stalled China-funded projects and to enhance bilateral cooperation in tackling ethnic problems along the border. 

She is also looking to gradually expand economic cooperation with China as Myanmar transitions from a reclusive dictatorship to a democracy in order to rapidly develop her country’s poor infrastructure. 

This will be the first high-level visits to India and China after the new civilian government was formed in Myanmar in March. 

Details of Kyaw’s visit were not immediately available though it is learnt it will be a “goodwill visit” that will broadly outline the future path of India-Myanmar relations. 

A ministerial delegate accompanying Suu Kyi said India and China are Myanmar’s important neighbours and it is important to maintain good relations with both. 

On Thursday, the ruling Communist Party of China lavished a ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People on Suu Kyi, an honour usually reserved for heads of state. Military pomp and show marked her entry to the hall, escorted by Premier Li Keqiang. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd from left) and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (2nd from right) hold a meeting with their delegations at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. (Reuters)

On Friday, she will meet President Xi Jinping, National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee chairpman Zhang Dejiang and State Counsellor Yang Jiechi. 

Suu Kyi, who is accompanied by the ministers of finance, power and transport and communication, will also visit Xian and Kunming, from where she will fly back to Myanmar. 

A key focus of Suu Kyi’s visit has been reviving work on the suspended Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy river.  The dam is jointly funded by the two countries but work was suspended by Myanmar in 2011. 

Suu Kyi was quoted by Chinese vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin as having told Premier Li that her government had decided to set up an “investigation board” to seek solutions to the problem. Relevant departments are expected to find a settlement that will keep the interests of both countries in mind. 

Liu said Suu Kyi and Li had reached agreements on enhancing cooperation in various fields, especially in the border regions. 

Referring to the upcoming Panglong Peace Conference, Liu said Li had expressed support for the process of ethnic reconciliation in Myanmar and backed the government on settling ethnic issues through talks. Liu said China also expressed its support for the peaceful settlement of problems in the north Myanmar region. 

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