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Suu Kyi’s visit seen as bid to boost friendship

Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Aug 18,2016 7:46 AM     China Daily

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Beijing on the night of Aug 17 to kick off her first China visit as her country’s No 2 political figure.

During Suu Kyi’s five-day visit, Premier Li Keqiang will host a welcoming ceremony and hold talks with Suu Kyi. She also will visit other cities.

A ceremony will be held for the signing of bilateral documents, according to the Foreign Ministry, although details of the pacts were not disclosed.

Currently, China is Myanmar’s most important trade partner and one of the main sources of foreign direct investment.

Xu Liping, a senior researcher on Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Suu Kyi’s visit signals the political will to cement the two countries’ traditional friendship.

“Now Myanmar is faced with many issues, such as the domestic reconciliation process, and resolving them cannot be achieved without cooperation with China,” Xu said.

Xu added that Myanmar “needs more investment from China” in light of China’s role as one of its biggest investors.

Beijing has sent key diplomats to maintain close contact with Suu Kyi in recent months, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.

Song visited Myanmar earlier this month and met with Suu Kyi on Aug 11 in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

Suu Kyi told Song that Myanmar attaches great importance to developing China-Myanmar ties, and she expects her China visit could further promote bilateral cooperation.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of international relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said China and Myanmar now need talks to minimize their differences and expand common ground.

“They particularly should promote cooperation in connectivity and infrastructure construction, which are beneficial to the economy of both sides,” Zhou said.

In June last year, Suu Kyi was invited to visit China for her first time as chair of the National League for Democracy.

Her party scored a landslide election victory earlier this year, and her new government was formed in March. Since then, she has visited Laos and Thailand. The China visit marks her first as state counselor outside Southeast Asia.

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