China’s Xi Offers Help for Burma Peace Process

By Reuters 16 May 2017

BEIJING, China — Chinese President Xi Jinping told Burma leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday that China would continue to help the country achieve peace, and called for both sides to maintain stability on their shared border, state media said.

Fighting in March in Burma pushed thousands of people into China to seek refuge, prompting Beijing to call for a ceasefire between ethnic militias and the security forces there and carry out military drills along the border.

Xi met Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi—who serves as Burma’s foreign minister while also being de facto head of its civilian government—following China’s Belt and Road Forum on Sunday and Monday.

“China is willing to continue to provide necessary assistance for Burma’s internal peace process,” China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying.

“The two sides must jointly work to safeguard China-Burma border security and stability,” Xi said.

The news agency did not elaborate on what assistance China would provide.

China has repeatedly expressed concern about fighting along the border that has occasionally spilled into its territory, for instance in 2015, when five people died in China.

Xi also said China would work to enhance cooperation with Burma on his Belt and Road development plan, which aims to bolster China’s global leadership by expanding infrastructure between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond.

The president promised $124 billion on Sunday to expand the reach of the initiative during the two day summit of world leaders in Beijing.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told Xi that Burma was grateful for Chinese help and that it would work with China to safeguard stability in the border region, Xinhua said.

Beijing last month offered to mediate a diplomatic row over the flight of around 69,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh to escape violence in Buddhist-majority Burma, according to officials from Bangladesh.

Burma has been sharply criticized in the West over violence against the Rohingya.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency under Burma’s army-drafted constitution, but effectively leads the government through the specially created post of “state counselor”.