Myanmar′s Suu Kyi arrives in China for critical talks | News | DW | 18.08.2016
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Myanmar's Suu Kyi arrives in China for critical talks

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi needs Chinese support to deal with ethnic conflicts on the two neighbors' shared border. The Nobel laureate is also under pressure to proceed with a Chinese-funded hydroelectric project.

At a meeting in Beijing on Thursday, Suu Kyi told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that her country's new government is willing to look for a resolution to a stalled dam project in northern Myanmar, Chinese officials said. But Suu Kyi said the solution must suit both countries.

Plans for the $3.6 billion (3.18 billion euro) Myitsone hydropower project, which was due to be built in the Kachin state, were suspended in 2011 after widespread environmental protests. About 90 percent of the dam's power would have gone to China.

The leaders of both countries agreed to set up a commission to resolve issues surrounding the 6,000-megawatt plant, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In opening remarks during her meeting with Li, Suu Kyi said she hoped her visit would promote "feelings of friendship" between China and Myanmar - also known as Burma.

China's Li Keqiang and Aung San Suu Kyi

Suu Kyi is in Beijing to bolster ties with her country's dominant northern neighbor

China's key border role

During her five day visit, which began Wednesday, the Nobel laureate was also expected to call for Beijing's support to resolve issues with Myanmar's ethnic minority armed groups operating along northern borders with China, including the Kachin Independence Army.

Peace and national reconciliation talks between the armed groups, the government and the military are due to begin on August 31.

In exchange for cooperation on border issues, China will likely seek support for its hotly disputed claims to most of the South China Sea, which were recently rejected by an international tribunal in The Hague.

Analysts said the trip would be a key test of her diplomatic skills, and potentially uncomfortable for Chinese leaders, who had supported the Myanmar's military decades-long hold on the country, which saw Suu Kyi spend more than 15 years under house arrest.

China's new investments

China strengthened its position as the largest foreign investor in Myanmar Thursday, by signing a deal to build a strategic bridge near their joint border at Kunlong.

A Myanmar Foreign Ministry official said China had also agreed to build two hospitals in Myanmar's two largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay.

The visit is Suu Kyi's first major diplomatic foray as de facto leader, after a new government took power in April following her National League for Democracy's sweeping election victory in November.

Suu Kyi, who is barred from the presidency by a junta-drafted constitution but holds several government posts including that of foreign minister, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.

mm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)