China’s Deputy Minister Visits NLD

National League for Democracy, NLD, China, Myanmar, Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, Rangoon, foreign relations, Myitsone, Letpadang, Li Junhua, Yang Houlan, China Power Investment, Communist Party of China

From left to right, NLD members Monywa Aung Shin, Nyan Win and Tin Oo give a calendar as a gift to China’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Ai Ping, at the NLD headquarters in Rangoon on Wednesday. (Photo: DWave)

RANGOON — A high-ranking Chinese government official has paid a visit to the headquarters of Burma’s biggest opposition party for the first time in more than two decades, according to the party’s patron.

China’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Ai Ping, met with senior members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Wednesday.

NLD patron Tin Oo said the visit was intended to boost ties not only between the two countries, but also between the NLD and the Communist Party of China (CPC).

“After all these years, it’s the first visit by a Chinese government official to our headquarters,” Tin Oo told The Irrawaddy. He said the last time a Chinese official visited the NLD head office in Rangoon was in 1990, right after the party won a landslide victory in nationwide elections.

During the nearly one-hour meeting on Wednesday, a Chinese delegation led by Ai Ping and Yang Houlan, the Chinese ambassador to Burma, met with Tin Oo as well as NLD central committee members Nyan Win and Monywa Aung Shin.

“They only focused on promoting a good relationship between China and Burma, and they didn’t utter a word about Myitsone, Letpadaung or the Chinese gas pipeline,” said Tin Oo, referring to Chinese-backed business ventures in Burma.

“They are also curious about the NLD’s international relationships, especially if the party comes to power. We explained that we will stick to our policy of having good relationships with every country.”

According to Monywa Aung Shin, the deputy minister said China had been unable to build relations in the past with the NLD due to Burma’s military dictatorship. “Now the political situation here is more open, so they said they want to promote party-to-party relations,” the NLD member told The Irrawaddy.

He added that at least four NLD delegations had traveled to China since last year.

China has stepped up engagement with the Burmese opposition and public in the past year after some of its megaprojects in Burma sparked popular backlash. In 2011, Burmese President Thein Sein suspended the US$3.6 billion Myitsone dam project, which is backed by the state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI). Suu Kyi, chairperson of the NLD, was among many public voices calling for the dam’s suspension.

During a trip to China in May last year, an NLD delegation was approached by CPI and told that the company wanted to restart the suspended project. A month earlier, Yang Houlan, the newly appointed ambassador, met with Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon, following up on a visit by his outgoing predecessor, Li Junhua. The Chinese Embassy in Burma also donated 1 million kyats ($1,000) to the NLD National Health Network several months ago.

In December last year, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited NLD members to China for the first time. A delegation led by the party’s central executive committee members and spokesman Nyan Win made the visit.

2 Responses to China’s Deputy Minister Visits NLD

  1. Shame on China. China supported military dictators and regime was sustained for decades. The Lady movie has been banned in China. China has been staunch enemy of democratic movement in Myanmar. Cleverly, China is wooing NLD which is the heart and soul of the public. Fighting with no gun and bullet has been NLD’s way to democracy while USDP is using Defense Ministry as fortress to hang on to power. The history tells that USDP and China are just losers.

  2. Surely a sign in which direction ‘the political winds are blowing’. Building bridges or just lowering the ‘draw-bridge’ as they did in 1990, we’ll have to wait and see. If one has studied China, whether as a profession or as a passion, one would realise how significant this has to be. China may be a bit late to come to is senses that by having the bets on the WRONG horse it is going to lose a lot. It’s a ‘zero to hero’ situation for them. We may have to think of why China, unlike any other times, did not object to Daw Suu having met with the Dalai Lama? Why now did the Wa came on board with the ceasefire talks and so on? If I were the generals they should cut their loss and worked out a plan to save their own skin. This time around the people will not be ‘peacefully demonstrating’ like they did in 1988. If one were to believe in the stars, it’s just the beginning.

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