Suu Kyi to Visit China Next Week

By San Yamin Aung 8 August 2016

RANGOON — Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s state counselor and foreign minister, is scheduled to visit China for four days from next week, according to the President’s Office.

President’s Office spokesman Zaw Htay confirmed that Suu Kyi would travel to China on Aug. 17. He declined to offer further details, saying that more would be announced soon.

China’s Minister of State Security Geng Huichang invited her to visit China during a meeting in the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw on July 8.

It will be her first foreign visit since her name appeared on a (unverified) “hit list” sent to police in Malaysia on August 1, which purported to be from the Islamic State terrorist group.

Since the National League for Democracy (NLD) formed a government at the end of March, Suu Kyi has made two foreign trips: to Laos in May and to Thailand in June.

As NLD chairperson and leader of the opposition, Suu Kyi visited Beijing in June 2015 at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party, meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

Suu Kyi has accepted an invitation from President Barack Obama to visit the United States before his presidency ends. There has been speculation that the trip would coincide with the session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Suu Kyi’s decision to visit China before the United States will be framed within the broader challenge her administration faces of rebalancing relations with China, on one side, and the West, on the other.

China is Burma’s foremost trading partner and a key source of foreign direct investment. Large Chinese-backed energy and resource-extraction projects in Burma—most prominently the Myitsone Dam in Kachin State—have been met with sustained popular resistance in recent years. The NLD government has yet to formulate a clear policy towards them.