DASSK’s China Trip Expected to Focus on Security, Development

By The Irrawaddy 30 November 2017

YANGON — State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi left for China on Thursday at the invitation of the Chinese government to deliver a speech “as a special guest” at a forum of world political leaders in Beijing hosted by the Communist Party of China.

The forum will run from November 30 to December 3. A news release from the State Counselor’s Office says the trip is both a working and goodwill visit during which she will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

With the ministers of electricity, energy and construction and other government officials in tow, the trip marks the second time the state counselor has visited Myanmar’s large neighbor to the north. In May she attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the China National Convention Center in Beijing. She held separate talks with President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang at the time.

Yangon-based political observer Yan Myo Thein said the visit was significant as few of the country’s previous leaders visited China twice in one year.

He said given the ministers accompanying Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, bilateral discussions would likely focus on projects related to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

During their private meeting, the two leaders are also likely to discuss efforts to stabilize border areas where some of Myanmar’s largest ethnic armed groups have been fighting with the national army; China’s continued support for Myanmar’s reconciliation and peace process; and the crisis in Rakhine State, where China has large business projects including a deep-sea port and a crude oil pipeline connecting western Myanmar’s Kyaukphyu Township and Kunming, the capital of China’s southern Yunnan Province.

Since the recent instability in Rakhine State, where the army has faced international condemnation for clearance operations that have triggered an exodus of more than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya to Bangladesh, China has expressed its support for Myanmar.

When the issue was raised at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in September, China voiced support for the army’s efforts “to uphold peace and stability” in Rakhine.

On a trip to China in mid-November, Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing also met President Xi, who said the general’s goodwill visit to China was significant, that relations between the two countries had reached their highest point and that China would continue providing necessary assistance to Myanmar.