Chinese Communist Party Builds Ties with Burma

By Patrick Boehler 24 May 2012

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pushing to increase links and cooperation with Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping told visiting leaders on Tuesday.

Htay Oo, the Secretary General of the USDP and a retired Tatmadaw (armed forces) general, reiterated his party’s wish to continue to strengthen political ties. He was quoted by Chinese state media as “praising the government’s achievements in the Chinese Communist Party” in so-far tight-lipped coverage of the visit.

Xi, currently a member of the CCP’s Standing Committee, is widely expected to succeed Hu Jintao as party chairman at the 18th party congress later this year. He is also expected to become Chinese president next March and also head of the Central Military Commission.

Xi vowed to implement the Sino-Burmese strategic partnership agreement signed last year, which includes development of infrastructure projects.

Wang Jiarui, head of the CCP’s international department, also participated in the meeting. Wang held separate talks with Htay Oo earlier this week.

On Monday, the USDP delegation of ten visited the 1,200-year-old Lingguan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of the Chinese capital Beijing, which is said to hold a tooth of the Buddha.

While Htay Oo was meeting the expected future Chinese president, a delegation from the Burmese armed forces held talks with the People’s Liberation Army Assistant Chief-of-Staff Maj-Gen Qi Jianguo at its Beijing headquarters, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Defense.

The session was headed by Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut of the Tatmadaw’s Bureau of Special Operations-2 on the “study trip” to China. The Bureau is in charge of the northeastern ethnic areas in Shan and Kachin State, where the Tatmadaw has been staging a major offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) over the last month.

KIA sources reported last week that unspecified Chinese authorities have entered into talks with the rebel movement to temporarily shelter civilian refugees fleeing from the offensive and crossing into Chinese territory.

Htay Oo last met with Chinese officials on May 14 when he spoke with visiting CCP Central Committee member Wang Gang in Naypidaw and accompanied him on several other occasions, including talks with President Thein Sein.

Wang is also the vice-chairman of the second chamber of the Chinese Parliament, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Htay Oo’s six-day visit to China concludes on Saturday.

Bilateral trade between the two neighbors increased 46.3 percent to US $6.5 billion in 2011. China’s new non-financial investments in Burma stood at $460 million, marking an increase of 41.4 percent on last year, according to Chinese figures.