23 October 2016
China and Myanmar can have a good friendship, says Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: AFP
China and Myanmar can have a good friendship, says Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: AFP

Suu Kyi to pay special attention to Myanmar-China ties

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to pay “special attention” to ties with China when her party takes office after its election triumph, Reuters reported.

In an interview with China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader said Myanmar had no enemies, but relations with neighbours were more sensitive than others and needed to be carefully handled.

China was Myanmar’s lifeline for two decades when sanctions prevented most western businesses and financial institutions from engaging with Myanmar during military rule from 1962 to 2011 that left the country underdeveloped.

But the stakes are now far higher for Beijing, with business competition heating up and the NLD’s anticipated sweeping-out of the last remnants of the old military guard with whom Chinese firms enjoyed a close bond.

“Ties between neighbours are always more delicate than between countries far apart,” Suu Kyi said.

“We’ll pay special attention to our relations in order to make them smooth, effective and clear.”

China could face a challenge in maintaining its influence in Myanmar as the United States pays closer attention and Japanese and other Asian firms compete for contracts.

Complicating the business picture for China is that its investments in Myanmar have historically been unpopular, fueling perceptions of graft, land grabs, shady deals with generals and the plunder of natural resources.

Suu Kyi said foreign policy is about balance, and China and Myanmar can have a good friendship.

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