Ethnic Politicians Travel to China

By Nyein Nyein 16 June 2014

RANGOON — The leaders of at least two Burmese political parties are traveling to China on Monday to meet with officials from the Communist Party of China (CPC).

A delegation from the Arakan National Party (ANP) and the National Democratic Force (NDF) will fly to Kunming, Yunnan Province, on Monday afternoon, according to party leaders.

They have been invited to discuss Burmese ethnic minority affairs with Chinese leaders, said Khin Maung Swe, chairman of the NDF, a small party with some ethnic members.

Both parties visited China for the first time last year, on separate trips.

Party members did not know why they had been invited to make the visit together this year, nor did they know which other parties, if any, would accompany them. The National League for Democracy (NLD), the country’s biggest opposition party, said it had not been invited. The Chinese Embassy in Rangoon could not be reached for comment.

“We will raise our concerns regarding Chinese projects in our ethnic state,” said Oo Hla Saw, a spokesman for the ANP, referring to allegations that Chinese companies have ignored local concerns about the environmental impacts of their projects.

“Our leaders raised same concerns during their first trip, but we have seen no concrete solutions.”

The party’s first visit came before June last year, when the transmission of natural gas via the Shwe gas pipeline from the Arakan coast to China’s Yunnan Province began.

Khin Maung Swe added that China should focus not only on establishing ties with the Burmese government, but also with ethnic leaders. “We suggested during our last visit that their relations policy was wrong,” he said.

Among the NDF delegation is Bauk Ja, from Hpakant, Kachin State, which borders China.

“We will discuss ethnic affairs, especially in Kachin State, and we will talk about the Myitsone dam and China’s support for poverty reduction,” he said.

In addition to Yunnan Province, the politicians will travel to Beijing to observe the CPC’s policy and its industrial zone. They plan to return to Burma on June 25.