Director-General Peng Xiubin of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) met former military dictator Senior General Than Shwe and former president U Thein Sein during his four-day visit to Myanmar from April 16-19.
Peng had informal meetings with the two ex-generals at their mansions in an affluent neighborhood of the capital Naypyitaw known as the Row of Six in Pobbathiri Township on April 18, according to a source close to Than Shwe’s mansion.
Peng reportedly handed over gifts sent from China by Song Tao, the former head of the International Liaison Department, to the ex-military leader. The last time Than Shwe and Song Tao met was in Naypyitaw in 2016, five years after Than Shwe stepped down as the chief of the previous military regime, and Than Shwe might have accepted the gifts as the two get on well with each other, said the source.
The source said he was amazed by Peng’s meeting with U Thein Sein because the CPC was upset by his decision to suspend a China-backed mega-dam project in Kachin State’s Myitsone.
But as junta boss Min Aung Hlaing has sometimes sought advice not only from Than Shwe but also from U Thein Sein, China might want to gauge U Thein Sein’s views.
The CPC in early April invited five ethnic parties from Myanmar to pay a 10-day visit to China, but the trip was canceled as the military junta did not allow it.
“It invited three members per party. When parties sought approval from the Union Election Commission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they didn’t allow it, saying parties were still being scrutinized,” said a party leader.
Peng also proposed during his visit to Myanmar meeting the five political parties that were invited to China, but the regime again rejected the request.
Before the coup, Song Tao often visited Myanmar, maintaining friendly ties with both the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party government, and the democratically elected National League for Democracy government.